Not meeting Tracey Emin

14 Nov 2018

One of the BAB Community Researcher's, Christopher, recently attended the Ageing Better Conference hosted by Ageless Thanet with Programme Director, Adam Rees and Programme Manager, Carly Urbanski. Read more to follow his account of the conference. 


"I’m not exactly sure who will get to read this blog so I will choose my worms carefully.

From Wednesday November 7th to Friday November 9th I was lucky enough to be `the chosen one.’  I joined Adam and Carly from Bristol Ageing Better, Pat from the Community Kick Start panel and Carol Watson from Bristol City Council at the annual Ageing Better get together, which this year was hosted by Thanet, who actually call their project `Ageless Thanet.’

I rather like that nomenclature because one of these things I learnt, and of course it does happen in Bristol, is that there is lots of intergenerational work going along. One might argue that Ageing  Better is both patronising and belittling. Still, a bit late to change BAB now!

Very nice train journey down, and super quick as the trains from St Pancras to the sea side resorts of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate use the Eurostar line.

We were actually staying in a hotel in Ramsgate, 10 miles east of Margate. First night we took a taxi to the largest Wetherspoons pub in UK, with a Victorian Seaside Pavilion. There we met lots of very nice Ageless Thanet staff, not to mention other Ageing Better project people, from Isle of Wight, Middlesborough and  Torbay.

Thursday, a coach picked us up and another group from another Ramsgate hotel and we drove to the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, venue for the conference. After another breakfast Thanet had organised a short walking tour around Margate, led by their main man James, (the Adam equivalent). Very informative, well actually only quite informative as he had had to step in at the last minute when the original tour guide dropped out. Thus anyone asking supplementary questions about particular sites was told they were making trouble and asked to leave the tour. (me of course!). Very enjoyable and ended up at an Ageless Thanet art class with lots of paintings for sale.

Then we had a nice lunch at the Turner Contemporary Gallery and the actual conference started with the Conference address by James Sanderson, Head of Personalised Care, NHS England This was followed by a five person panel discussion and then three parallel sessions. I attended the one on Good Connections and Inequality

In the evening, after returning briefly to Ramsgate hotel, we caught a coach back to Margate for Fish and Chip supper at Dreamland where we were entertained by an Ageless Thanet  Ukelele band  and mingled a lot, in quite a cold building which had been restored but due to English Heritage being so awkward, still had lots of `holes’ in the roof which weren’t allowed to be fixed. There was free roller skating on the rink but sadly no chance to go on the rides, only to lose money (provided!) on the slot machines.

Friday morning started with another address this time by civil servant Ramona Herdman, who as Head of Tackling Loneliness, in the Dept for Digital, culture, Media and Sport is responsible for putting into place the Government’s new Loneliness Strategy, which was instigated following the death of Jo Cox MP who was a champion of `our cause.’ The strategy is now published and on the face of it is pretty good in that its suggestions echo what all the lottery funded projects are already doing.

This was followed by another five person panel and refreshments leading to my highlight of the conference, a session on `Becoming Age Friendly. What’s the value? This was chaired by our very own Adam who was joined by John Hannen, Emma Lincoln and Ange-Jones, respectively from Ambition for Ageing, Manchester, Age Friendly Isle of Wight, and Centre for Ageing Better. Quite memorable was the Isle of Wight training of bus drivers which has been so popular that it has spread from Southern Vectis, (Isle of Wight) to across the Solent

Sandwich lunch and then home to Bristol.

All in all a brilliant experience for the chance of meeting and talking to other groups, learning what works, and enjoying being with so many like minded people.

Only downside was that we never got to meet Tracey Emin." 

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