WOMEN’S Aid are partnering with Spark Opera to deliver a project in Antrim that uses the arts to help older women whose lives have been blighted by domestic abuse.
It is just the latest initiative from Women’s Aid ABCLN, an organisation with a long track record of addressing domestic abuse and providing services for women and children across Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey.
The project is entitled, ‘The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late’, and is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Arts and Older People Programme, with funding from The National Lottery, Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation.
The Arts and Older People Programme supports organisations across the region in delivering a series of community-based arts projects benefiting older people.
It aims to tackle isolation and loneliness whilst promoting positive mental health and well-being among older people through engagement with the arts.
At its heart, the programme is designed to challenge the perceptions of what it means to be an older person.
The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, enables older women who have experienced domestic abuse to use the arts to tell their stories whilst working with professional artists in a safe, supportive and inspiring environment.
From dance, to craft, visual arts and writing, older women are using an arts based approach towards healing and connection with one another.
Kate Guelke, Artistic Director with Spark Opera, said the project would help people address unresolved issues.
“The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, is a participant led arts programme that uses the arts as a tool for women to tell their stories of their experiences, to empower them and to heal them.
“This enables the women to take ownership of their experiences and create a new narrative in a safe, supportive environment.
“It’s thanks to The National Lottery players that we can make this opportunity available to older women and Spark Opera is proud to partner with Women’s Aid ABCLN on this important and impactful project.”
Bronagh O’Boyle, from Women’s Aid ABCLN, agreed that the arts can help people address deeply personal experiences in a different way.
“We at Women’s Aid ABCLN have a long track record of being involved with the Northern Ireland creative arts community,” she said.
“The Reconnect Project, It’s Never Too Late, is a group where women come to socialise and where they talk about empowerment, be listened to and having their voices magnified through participation in the arts.
“The women gain so much from this project and it’s incredibly satisfying to see them progress in their journey, expressing themselves in a safe environment.”
Joan Cosgrove, a volunteer with Women’s Aid ABCLN, said the project was ‘bringing out the best in these women’.
“It’s giving a platform for them to feel and get help to make it an easier journey towards a rejuvenated life,” she said.
To find out more about the important work of Women’s Aid visit womens-aid.org.uk