THE tenth anniversary year of the York 50+ Festival will be celebrated from September 27 to October 5.
The event was set up in 2005 by festival coordinator Sue Lister to coincide with the October 1 celebration of the International Day of Older People at home and abroad. " As a member of the York Older People’s Assembly, I could see the writing on the wall," she recalls.
"The number of older people was increasing – and still is – and we needed to bridge the gap between the generations and between different cultures, faiths, bridging physical and mental differences and engaging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities."
Those beliefs are undimmed. "We’re all 'ageing' day by day and we all need to make sure we have as good a quality of life as we can, and work together to make sure this happens right to the end of life," says Sue. "I'm nigh on 70 and feel 're-surged', not 'retired'."
Thousands of people have celebrated the positives of ageing since the 50+ Festival began, bringing together young and old from all walks of life. "The programme has grown from 75 events in 2005 to 115 events in 2013," says Sue.
"The 50+ Information Fair at the York Guildhall overflowed to the Spurriergate Centre last year and the All Saints Pavement Church has now offered a home to stallholders offering information and advice to older people. The application form can be found online at yorkassembly.org.uk/informationfair and the date for your diaries is Wednesday, September 10."
Networking teams are in place to encourage participation in this year's 50+ Festival. "Faith groups, cultural groups, intergenerational groups, community groups and businesses are working together to spread the word about the potential opportunities," says Sue. "If groups want to publicise their events, classes, meetings, special offers, why not put them in the festival programme?"
The deadline is July 20 and events forms can be found on the YOPA website at yorkassembly.org.uk/festival or by phoning Jean at the YOPA office on 01904 761240.
"Taking faith groups as an example, how could the wide variety of faith groups participate?" asks Sue. "What celebrations are happening in the autumn? How would the organisers like to reach out to others and invite them to share the experience?"
In previous years, faith groups in York have offered discussions about York as a city of sanctuary; a fashion show in aid of children in Rwanda; art and craft exhibitions; coffee mornings; creative workshops for people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities; a celebration of the Hindu festival of Dashahraa; inter-faith meetings; an invitation to look behind the scenes at the Bishopthorpe Palace; classical music and song; bell ringing at churches in and around York; a Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre guided tour and meditation; and more besides.
"The door is wide open," says Sue. "Just fill in an event form or contact me on 01904 488870 to discuss possibilities. Don’t write us off ; find out how we can share our experiences, knowledge, skills and time with others. Combat isolation, loneliness and depression by encouraging participation in a festival such as ours. Help to get communities working together. Spread the word."
Spread the 50+ celebrations too, she urges. "Bear in mind that what we're doing in York will be mirrored in cities around Britain and I sincerely hope that the ripples will spread to every town and village in the country. October 1 is the International Day of Older People and it gives us a chance to celebrate the huge part we play in our communities."