Silver Dreams Flagships: a year on

As we are approaching the end of year one milestone for a lot of projects, now seemed like a good time to celebrate some of your successes over the last year. There have been lots of fantastic achievements to celebrate. Here are just a few of them:

  • Age UK County Durham won the National Lottery Award’s Best Health Project for their Come Eat Together project with 12,746 votes! John Torode from MasterChef sprung a surprise visit on the project to tell them the good news. Staff involved in the project went to Pinewood Studios in September 2014 to formally collect their award.
  • Grandparents Plus featured on the BBC One Lifeline appeal in December 2014. The appeal, presented by Gloria Hunniford, featured two sets of grandparents who stepped in to look after their grandchildren to prevent them ending up in care. The appeal was a fantastic promotional opportunity for the organisation.
  • Volunteers and beneficiaries from Aquarius took part in an event for staff at the Big Lottery Fund Birmingham centre to celebrate Older People’s Day on 1 October. Volunteers talked about their experiences of ageing to raise awareness of issues facing older people and answered they questions staff had.
  • Scene Enterprise visited the Big Lottery Fund office in Birmingham to deliver training in Deafblind Awareness. Staff found the course thought provoking and felt it gave them a better understanding of what it is like to live with deadfblindness and how to recognise and help people with the condition.
  • The Barrow Respectability project featured on the James Martin BBC TV series, Meet the Street, in December. The celebrity chef is heading a national campaign designed to bring communities closer together and tackle social isolation. Hairy Biker, Dave Myers, returned to his home town of Barrow to meet residents and help them set up new social networks.
  • Alan Richards, volunteer on the HenPower project, has been recognised by the Prime Minister for his contribution to the North East community. Alan received the Points of Light award for making a noticeable difference to the lives of those around him.

The Ageing Better team are looking forward to receiving your year one reports and hearing about further successes of your projects and seeing the progress you are making towards meeting your project outcomes.

Other news

At the Big Lottery Fund, we are continuing to support older people through our Ageing Better programme. Our England committee signed off 14 projects in March totalling £77,847,470, giving them the go ahead to begin delivery. We have also awarded a £50 million ten year endowment to the Centre for Ageing Better which aims to support good quality of life in older age and promote the benefits of an ageing society by bridging the gap between research, evidence and practice.


Silver Dreams final learning event

Hi All,

Just a quick reminder that the final learning event is next Thursday (27th). If you are planning to come but haven’t confirmed your attendance please let us know by Monday.

Also please let us know which morning workshop you have chosen to help with planning.

We look forward to seeing you all on Thursday.

Best wishes

Silver Dreams Learning/Celebration Event 27th March 2014

Hi all

Ecorys are holding a final Silver Dreams Fund event in Birmingham on Thursday 27th March 2014 that will be focussing on celebrating and learning which will include lots of opportunities for you to share and learn amongst projects. There will also be an opportunity to hear an overview of the evaluation including early findings from the older people survey.

Your Funding Officer will be in touch within the next few days asking about your availability to attend this event. Further details will be available closer to the date. Any queries please contact us.


Brendan – BIG Lottery Fund

Touchstones support services help to ease the effects of grief

Grief is, unfortunately, something we all have to go through at some point in life and it can affect us very differently.  However, when older people lose their spouse or partner it can often lead to a point of crisis. It may be as a result of loneliness or having to cope alone and doing certain everyday tasks for the first time. In rural areas the isolation and sense of loneliness can be even worse due to the lack of support services in the area.

In three rural areas of Yorkshire the Touchstones project has been organising a wide range of support activities to tackle precisely this issue. The activities include practical sessions on cookery and sewing as well as providing opportunities for social interaction. The project uses volunteers to support delivery of the sessions as well as speaking to and supporting less confident older people to join in the activities. Beneficiaries have been asked what other activities they would wish to be included in the project. Based on popular demand, hobbies and interests were also explored and sessions on Yorkshire dialect, origami, and acrylic painting have been run alongside the skills sessions. 

Input from both the volunteers and participants indicate that the project has been well organised and led to many positive outcomes for older people.  In particular, the practical elements of the classes have received a lot of positive feedback.  The cooking class for example not only provides practical knowledge, it also invokes positive memories.

“My wife would have loved this, she was disabled but she used to love being in the kitchen and I used to help her.” (Beneficiary)

For others, the practical elements helped to take their mind off the bereavement.

“You forget that you are bereaved, you are not concentrating on your bereavement or what’s happened to you. Here I feel safe and protected.” (Beneficiary)

Many of the beneficiaries highlighted the importance of having something to complement their on-going bereavement counselling, and to fill the gap once the counselling comes to an end.  The small class sizes allowed more integration not only between the beneficiaries but also with the volunteers. In addition, beneficiaries often found the activities to be secondary to the opportunity to engage in social interaction.

Touchstones received £191,912 funding from Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams Fund in association with the Daily Mail. At the end of December 2013, Touchstones had supported 174 bereaved older people to access or learn new practical skills.

You can read more here: 

Timebanking makes a difference – “I don’t know what I’d do without my volunteer”

The Care4Care project, led by Professor Heinz Wolff, 84, of Age UK, Isle of Wight, has piloted a ‘timebank’ approach to meet the challenges of one of the most pressing issues in today’s Britain – an ageing population suffering from loneliness and isolation. The timebanking project was delivered on the Isle of Wight where isolation and loneliness for older people are a particular issue. 

Volunteers received ‘care credits’ for the time they put down, these credits were then saved in the ‘timebank’ and used for future care, for themselves or for that of a loved one. The credit system meant that participants not only volunteer to care for someone else but also made sure that they received the same care later on. The volunteers have been able to help out either with chores, such as grocery shopping, driving to medical appointments and doing odd jobs around the house. Others offered companionship and spend time with the project beneficiaries. Heinz Wolff described the project as a catalyst for people to support and care for those in their neighbourhood and communities. Over the course of the project, levels of interest to participate have been overwhelming. About 200 volunteers have banked close to 20,000 hours and over 250 older people have got to enjoy their support and company.

The initiative, run in conjunction with the Young Foundation and Age UK Isle of Wight, has benefited both the volunteers and the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries have been helped to go shopping or just get out of their homes, which in turn have given them both peace of mind and invaluable support. They have become less isolated, happier and more confident.

“The main thing is…I always look forward to her coming, so we can get out of here for a couple of hours. That makes a big difference. Just that couple of hours, two or three hours out of here, when you are on your own, you haven’t got to worry about who is about you, or telling you what to do and things like that, like, you know.“ (Older person)

Overall, the older people expressed both gratitude and admiration for the volunteers who were willing to give up their time.

The volunteers also report that they felt more confident in their abilities and had gained a greater understanding of the needs of older people. Many of those who were out of work felt that the scheme gave them a feeling of giving something back and therefore not only improved the beneficiary’s wellbeing, but also their own. 

One of the success factors for the project has been its participatory approach where volunteers have been able to provide feedback both in the initial stage and throughout the project. 


Care4Care was awarded £189,000 by the Silver Dream Fund. More information can be found on their blog.

This blog article is based on a case study provided by the Young Foundation for the Silver Dreams Fund evaluation.

Evaluation Support Reminder

Hi All,

Many thanks to all projects that have let us know how you are getting on with the beneficiary survey. We were encouraged to hear how many projects are on track to submit 50, or very close to 50, paired before and after surveys. If you already have some or all of the survey data please feel free to send there through to us as we’re keen to see them.

Also a reminder that we are here to provide you with evaluation support such as commenting on a draft of your evaluation report. So please let us know if this would be helpful. There is also a suggested evaluation report structure in the evaluation toolkit.

If you have any queries please get in touch with your designated support researcher.

Best wishes


Sunbeams bring musical joy to rurally isolated older people

The Sunbeam’s Trust, led by its energetic founder Annie Mawson, is a charity working with disadvantaged people across Cumbria. Their Music for Dignity project is bringing music into older people’s lives as a way of improving their wellbeing. Over the last year Sunbeams has been working with over 210 older people with a range of complex physical and mental health needs (including dementia) who are rurally isolated. Through music, the project has been helping them to find new ways to cope with life-changing events, such as the transition into care, bereavement, or coping with their long-term illnesses.

We visited the project recently as part of our evaluation of the Silver Dreams Fund for Big Lottery Fund and witnessed the ‘Silver Liners’ – a singing group – in action as they performed for older people at Dentholme Care Home in Cleator Moor.

The Silver Liners performed a range of musical numbers, sharing out instruments among the audience, and encouraging people to join in playing their instruments and singing along.

The musical sessions bring benefits for the singers and also for the audiences they sing to.

Pauline, 64, has been taking part in the Silver Liners singing group for a while. She suffers from Polio and finds it difficult to get about, having to use a wheelchair since an operation in 2009. Pauline says singing has had a profound effect on her life, transforming her confidence and giving her days structure and purpose. She says:

“Music has made such a difference for me. It makes me feel that I’ve got something to aim for and to look forward to.”

Outside of the Silver Liners there aren’t many opportunities to meet people in what is a very rural area, so the project really brings older people together and provides social support.

For those in the audience, some of whom have experienced dementia, falls and memory problems, listening to the music brings an opportunity to relive their youth. Audience members who are not always able to engage socially are encouraged by the familiar tunes and some even get up and dance! As a result the Silver Liners project has evolved and now incorporates more audience involvement. The project is going from strength to strength.

Sunbeams received £144,622 funding from Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams Fund in association with the Daily Mail.

You can read more here and visit their Facebook page here!/SunbeamsMusic