Case Studies

Meet Me @ WAG Conversation Club

  • Venue(s):
    Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Summary:
MeetMe@WAG Conversation Club gets older people together at Wolverhampton Art Gallery (WAG) for a good conversation. The project won the Public Sector Arts and Health Award 2013.

Project Information

MeetMe@WAG Conversation Club gets older people together at Wolverhampton Art Gallery (WAG) for a good conversation. Responding to local feedback from older people who said there were limited opportunities to talk to each other- especially about new things, WAG wanted to explore how they could use their gallery and resources to bring older people together.

Each week a project worker uses items from the collection based upon a specific theme as a catalyst for conversation amongst the members. People can come and just listen, they can contribute items themselves to talk about or they can initiate conversations and suggest ideas for future conversations. As they sit around a big table in a specific meeting room, they get a drink and project worker Jane James facilitates the conversation. Some of the participants may not have participated in group conversations or socialised with such a wide group of people, so care is taken to help new participants feel welcomed in the group.

By using a prop and different topics, project workers have observed that it serves as an effective vehicle for gently easing people into a conversation and talking to each other. Participants request topic ideas and they have ranged from going to the pictures, food and drink, fashion and grooming, work, beside the seaside, the great outdoors, doing art, reading, poetry and writing, toys and games and fairs and circuses. Importantly, the conversations are not just about reminiscence they also encourage participants to think about the future. Participants also have lunch together and can visit the gallery after the session. Approximately 17 people regularly attend, and most people attend through word of mouth.

A blog has been formed and they are beginning to be an active on line community as well as meeting in person each month. There are now MeetMe@ conversation clubs at other WAG venues in the region, and they are making links with other groups such as writers and readers groups which are of interest to the participants. Click here to read the MeetMe@ blog.

MeetMe@ WAG was nominated for the Arts and Health Award by a participant of the project: "As a volunteer with LINks I’ve researched isolation and older people. Local organisations- National Pensioners Convention, Over 50s Forum, Age UK,YMCA - found professionals doing great work locally were frightened when all we wanted was to meet and talk with fellow pensioners. This project 'ticks all our boxes'."

Photo Credit: Stephen King Photography

Gallery