Cost-Cutting Hits Merton's Celebrating Age Festival

Consultation will take place over how to celebrate age in the borough

The annual Celebrating Age festival will not be taking place in Merton in 2016 as cost-cutting measures limit the public funding for the event.

But Merton Council and Age UK Merton say they are working together on how to help older residents learn new skills and learn something different.

Instead of a festival this year, they will be organising consultation events over the course of the year, encouraging residents to get involved in co-designing a series of Celebrating Age events for older people.

Details of the consultation events and how to get involved will be published on the Age UK Merton website, and the groups and individuals who usually participate in the Celebrating Age Festival will be involved.

The council and Age UK Merton say a review is necessary to secure its long-term future at a time when the council is having to make significant savings across all its services.

The annual festival had run each September for the past 13 years, offering more than 100 events around the borough – many of them free. They ranged from exercise classes to dances, pamper days, films,  health and wellbeing events, sing-alongs, discos, harvest suppers and trips out.

Merton Council’s current cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, said: “We are committed to ensuring Merton is a place where there are activities for older people to enjoy and clubs to join all year round. We are working on what Celebrating Age events might look like in the future.  They are a great way of highlighting the positive aspects to older age, but it is the consistent year-round provision that is critically important to people’s quality of life..”

Age UK Merton chief executive, Charmaine Bennett said: “Most people would be aware that there is limited public money available to continue to fund events like the Celebrating Age Festival, so things need to change and we want to get as many people as possible involved in how we design and fund any future Celebrating Age events.

“This is a great opportunity for people to influence how the events will look from 2017 onwards. Activities and good company are vital to aging well, staying mentally astute and physically healthy.”

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May 30, 2016