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The quality of services provided for older people at The Beaney in Canterbury has led to the museum being shortlisted for a national award.
It is up against four other venues in the ‘Best Age-Friendly Cultural Organisation’ category at this year’s Fantastic for Families Awards, with the results set to be announced on 9 September.
Health and wellbeing has been a key part of The Beaney’s work in recent years, with an emphasis on exploring how cultural organisations can have a positive impact on people’s physical and mental health.
Through this programme, the team at the museum has identified some of the physical and mental barriers that older visitors might face, not just when visiting venues but in everyday life, and helped them deal with these challenges.
Regular workshops, such as Power of the Object and Sensing Culture, welcome participants suffering from dementia, social isolation, sight loss and speech difficulties, while the Sounds Beaney music for wellbeing sessions are open to all ages.
Accessible facilities at the museum include the ‘touchable Beaney’ 3D museum artefacts, portable seating, Braille museum guides, step free access, a platform lift, accessible toilets and a disabled car park.
Council Leader Cllr Rob Thomas said: “The Beaney’s award winning work in the important area of health and wellbeing has been attracting a lot of national attention over the last few years, and this latest shortlisting is further recognition of that.
“Considering the needs and barriers experienced by older visitors, making them feel at ease when they visit and celebrating their diversity of interests and abilities is at the heart of everything we do. Being in the running for another award is confirmation that all this work is having a positive impact on the mental and physical health of older people.”
The ‘Best Age-Friendly Cultural Organisation’ category in the awards formally recognises the “outstanding provision for older family members, including staff welcome, communication and the venue and its facilities in accommodating the needs of older people”.
The Beaney takes on Barnsley Museums, Leeds Playhouse, Moving Memory Dance Theatre Company and Norwich Theatre for the prize.
Covid-19 has affected the projects listed above, with some having to be paused and others running in a different way. Some of the accessible facilities are also currently unavailable.