“We used to go to the St Francis dances on a Saturday, we all collected there and at Rosary Church on a Sunday afternoon: where is there for us now, at our age?” Cara participant Ethna, RIP, recently lost to us, asks.
“Ah well now Ethna, that’s what we are working on”
Sara Allkins, Cara Project Worker reports on the exciting Cara project and what’s happened during its first year.
The Cara Cinema Club goes from strength to strength with a gala evening showing at Neighbourhood Action in Farnley in April. We showed ‘Brooklyn’ to an appreciative audience of older people from Farnley and a group of Irish older people who arrived by minibus to a warm welcome of tea, soup and sarnies.
The older people all joined in with the party atmosphere and two ladies from different sides of Leeds even recognised each other from the Daniel O’Donnell fan club! Friends reunited indeed.
Brooklyn is a film which speaks of the experience of many older Irish people, of leaving home at a young age and working in a different country; but it is also evocative of an era recognisable to many of our older people, regardless of background; so when the lights came up at the end, there were moist eyes aplenty, Irish and non-Irish, men and women.
Friends were made, popcorn consumed and plans made to do it all again later in the year.
Competitive stuff it was too with Maggie, support worker, winning and John getting extremely excited even with no money changing hands!
The Cara Cards Club has continue with a small but devoted following, including one Cara participant, John, who has taken on helping to organise and run the card sessions. Persuading him to allow more than one particular game to be played may be more complicated….
A marvellous and astoundingly wet visit to the York Gate Garden in Adel. It is a perfect oasis of peace just outside the ring road with a lovely cafe and a talk about the history of the garden given whilst you sip you tea. Unfortunately the weather was against us and some of the older people who had signed up cancelled on the day but those that attended had a fine time as can be seen from the pictures and plans have been laid to return.
There was even a poem written to commemorate the occasion.
Ooh it was wet!! by Barbara Cavell
Ooh it was wet ooh! How it rained the day we went to Adel
Ooh! It was wet ooh! How it rained we all had an involuntary paddle!
We looked like a scene from ‘singing in the rain’
Lots of jolly umbrellas’ trying to salve off our pain…
We looked at flowers and bushes and things like that
Things and colours I’ve only ever seen on her Majesty’s Hat!
Plants, leaves and thistles diamond adorned with the weather
We didn’t need money to feel rich and together,
Trees secret gardens all waiting to be found
Brought to mind the phrase ‘we stand on holy ground’
In the very ‘upmarket’ tea shop we had a bit of a ‘to-do’
They gave us a cuppa, but we wanted the teapot too!
They were a bit surprised at this rather common request
But come on we’re all Irish and our heads cannot be messed!
A tour of the gift shop is always a must,
But as everything was a tad expensive we left things to gather dust!
One last time umbrellas open, we practice that Gene Kelly scene
We sing and dance, who cares if we’re mad we’ve all got a ‘Gene Kelly’ gene!
Photo call over we climb back on the bus our energies draining
And look out the window yes you guessed it: IT’S STILL BL—DY RAINING!
Cara means ‘friend’ in Irish and core to the project is reducing social isolation and loneliness in the Irish community through support and friendship. Volunteers take time to get to know the elderly people involved in the project, developing friendships and gaining trust to help to get them out and about in the community and involved in cultural activities such as those provided by Leeds Irish Health and Homes , amongst others.
Aimed at older (50 years plus) Irish People living in Leeds, Cara seeks to locate and engage people who may have lost touch with their community and may lack the means and the confidence to get back into the swing of things. By becoming part of the Cara friendship network participants can get the support they need to get to social and cultural events, to reconnect with old friends from the Irish Community and re-engage with what is offered within their own locality