We were excited to host the Age Friendly Museums Network West Midlands sharing day, bringing together practitioners from health and wellbeing organisations as well as arts, culture and heritage organisations to share best practice, network and solve challenges today.

Our day started with a selection of speakers from five different health and wellbeing organisations, who shared some of their best practice and day to day work. Hearing different people’s approaches to improving the lives of older audiences was very inspiring. We heard about the importance of giving people experiences that are fun, challenging and connect them to their local area. There were lots of common themes through the different organisations, including the need to link people with services and the importance of fighting loneliness to everyone’s wellbeing, whether they are being cared for or the people doing the carers.

After a quick break for tea, coffee and biscuits, we heard from a range of arts, culture and heritage organisations. Although our network has the word ‘museums’ in the title, we welcome people from every type of cultural venue. This was reflected in our speakers, who included libraries, archives and museums. Hearing about the fabulous work that’s already happening in our region was really uplifting, particularly some of the facts and figures that some of our speakers shared – did you know that people who engage in cultural activities (crafts, reading, etc.) experience over 30% less reduction in mental capacity in later life? We were also amazed to hear that just 6 minutes of silent reading can reduce your stress levels by over 60%! Partnership working and its importance came up time and again, with people sharing some amazing examples of work they’d done in cooperation with other organisations.

We wrapped up the morning by taking a boat trip into the caverns, which was a first for many of our delegates!

After a warming lunch we got our heads down to some serious conversations, facilitated by plenty of cake, tea and coffee.

Splitting up into teams, we spent some time thinking about the challenges our sectors face when wanting to work with older audiences. Then we mixed our groups up and got to solving! Some brilliant ideas came out of the session, tackling age-old problems such as how people can hear about services on offer, how to reach new audiences and how to overcome potential barriers. Have a look on our twitter feed @afmnWM for more details about the challenges we discussed and the solutions we came up with!

The day concluded with some feedback gathering and sharing our hopes for the future.

All in all we had a fantastic day – we hope it’ll be the first of many such days of sharing across our sectors!

If you’re interested in our work in health and wellbeing and the wider Age Friendly Museums Network then why not follow us on twitter? We’ll be sharing more interesting things as we discover it.