Health and Wellbeing Sharing Day Dudley

On 23rd November, we welcomed health and wellbeing professionals to a sharing afternoon in partnership with Birmingham Museums and kindly supported by the Age Friendly Museums Network. At Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust, we aim to fight loneliness with our Chit Chat Club which gives people of our local community an open and friendly space to have a natter and meet new people. Led by our friendly group of volunteers, the Chit Chat club began earlier this year and we are eager to get the message out and learn about new ways to reach the most isolated people in our communities.

Our sharing afternoon brought together a diverse range of health and wellbeing professionals to get a taste of what museums and heritage sites in the West Midlands can offer their service users. We were lucky enough to welcome representatives from Birmingham and the Black Country, including Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Healthwatch Dudley, Sandwell U3A, Dudley Stroke Association, Age UK Sandwell, Agewell UK and Birmingham Mind. After heading out on a 45 minute boat trip into the limestone caverns underneath Dudley, our visitors had a hands-on session with Rosie Barker from Birmingham Museums to explore a range of museum objects that can be taken out to groups during outreach sessions.

Later in the afternoon (once we’d all enjoyed with some tea and cake!) we were eager to gain some feedback from our participants on their experiences in museums and heritage sites. We started by thinking of possible barriers that service users might face when visiting Dudley Canal Tunnel and Limestone Mines, and other sites, as well as thinking of ways that we could overcome these barriers. It was great to chat to people who have such an in-depth understanding of the needs of those people we want to reach the most and who may benefit from what we have to offer. The most common barriers were transport and cost, and we had some really good suggestions including adding more information on transport routes on our promotional material and building links with local transport providers.

We ended our sharing session with a chat about how to best reach isolated individuals in our communities. We currently use leaflets and flyers, as well as social media, but we were interested in the methods health organisations use to reach their service users and why they were effective. We had a great response and got such an insight into local networks and services that we can build links with. We learnt that getting the information to key people who are trusted in the local community should be a priority over volume of marketing.

We had such a positive and productive afternoon and would like to thank all of our participants. We encouraged our visitors to join our mailing lists and keep in touch. We will be sharing news of projects and working together to help reach isolated individuals in our communities and share what museums and heritage sites can offer.

See the Age Friendly Museum Network’s website for more details on how museums are supporting older and isolated audiences: https://agefriendlymuseums.wordpress.com/

Images below:

Health and Wellbeing professionals getting ready for their boat with a #hardhatselfie.

Heritage Activities Assistant Holly, talking about everything else that goes on at the Portal, including our Chit Chat club.