An innovative 10-week project brought 8 carers from east Belfast together with writer, Jan Carson and musician, Nick Boyle to create two short radio dramas based on the experience of being a carer.  The project also developed a unique toolkit to create opportunities for carers and organisations to share their experiences.  The Artful Ageing toolkit, delivered by EastSide Arts and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Arts & Older People Programme, will provide a platform for conversations about being and supporting carers.

Working with local writer and arts facilitator Jan Carson and east Belfast sound artist Nick Boyle, the participants, most of whom had no experience in writing for radio, worked to develop, write, edit, perform and record two short pieces of drama about their own personal experience of caring for a loved one.  The participants are carers of children, partners and parents and have cared for people living with physical and mental disabilities, Autism, Dementia and other complex needs.


The radio dramas and the toolkit will be available as a resource for carers’ groups throughout Northern Ireland.  The downloadable pack will include the recordings of both plays along with recommended frameworks to discuss the themes and issues raised. Also included are two quick writing exercises similar to those the group used during the 10-week project. The aim of the resource pack is to stimulate and support honest conversations about caring and the role of carers, and to enable carers to reflect upon the connections, interests and relationships shared with the person they care for.

Writer and facilitator for the Artful Ageing project, Jan Carson commented;

“I’ve learnt so much from working with these folk. I’ve learnt about selflessness and tenacity, bravery and perseverance. It was a pleasure to watch them recognise their own experiences reflected in the similar experiences of other participants, and bond over the things they have in common. We hope that the toolkit will create opportunities to discuss and share experiences as well as remind carers how important their role is. We would like to thank our principal funders, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts and Older People Programme. ”

Lorraine Calderwood, Arts & Older People Programme Officer, said; 

“The links between creative expression though participation in the arts and improved wellbeing are now well established. The Arts Council’s Arts & Older People Programme has evidenced how successful the arts are in making a positive impact on older people, tackling social issues such as isolation and social exclusion. With the help of professional artists these projects give a much needed voice to our older citizens through high quality arts interventions.  The Arts Council is delighted to support the EastSide Arts Artful Ageing programme which has a wonderful lasting legacy through the Radio Drama Toolkit.”

For further information about the EastSide Arts Artful Ageing Programme and toolkit resource visit www.eastsidearts.net