A cast of Dickensian characters will roll back the decades at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra to give more than 100 older people a taste of an authentic Victorian Christmas.
This included people from Clanmil Housing Association’s independent living schemes; Cramsie Court in Ballymoney and Hezlet Court in Coleraine.
The special occasion, organised by Clanmil Housing and the National Museums Northern Ireland, is part of a unique Big Lottery project that gives older people living in sheltered housing a chance to take part in workshops and experiences at museum sites to help prompt memories and start conversations.
The five-year Treasure House project has been successful in helping to combat loneliness and establish new connections for more than 1,000 of Clanmil’s older tenants who have taken part in activities over the past 16 months.
The Victorian Christmas event brings the festive season alive with traditional arts and crafts, festive music and period costumes.
Brendan Morrissey, Housing Manager at Clanmil said: “This is a great way for all the participants to reflect on and celebrate their achievements in the past 16 months of the project and to toast old friends and new. While the focus is very much on fun, Treasure House has been successful in helping to deal with difficult issues such as loneliness and isolation that sadly do affect many people in older life.
“Activities like this can have such a positive impact on quality of life by helping to keep body and mind active and by bringing people together to enjoy each other’s company while learning new skills and developing new interests. Our tenants’ enthusiasm and excitement has been overwhelming and in the first year of the project more than 70% of those who attended one project session signed up for more.”
Sue Cathcart, Life Long Learning Officer for National Museums Northern Ireland, commented: “The Treasure House Project uses National Museums’ unique collections to inspire our older citizens to tap into, explore and develop their creativity through a host of activities at our museums over the last 16 months. This is all about giving people the opportunity to try something new and exciting from making Egyptian Faience to learning about the history of flight in Northern Ireland. We would like to thank all our volunteers, the Clanmil co-ordinators and our museum staff who all contribute to make this project so exciting and successful.”
She added: “This Christmas event is a wonderful way to round up and celebrate a great year. The Treasure House participants can take part in lots of traditional activities including Victorian crafts and a dramatic presentation from the talented Anderson’s town players.
And of course no Christmas party would be complete without a visit from Santa, who is bringing his wife along too!”