Celebrating Age – The Elder Tree


The Elder Tree project is a three-year, region wide residency programme, which is empowering groups of older people across the East Midlands to create new work stimulated by museums, archives, heritage spaces, and professional writers. Activity will include story-telling, reminiscence writing, poetry, group reading and role-play, and embody an ethos of celebration and fun.

The region-wide project also celebrates the wealth of experience, knowledge and talent older people bring to communities, especially in the former coalfield areas of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, rural parts of Lincolnshire, former steelwork centre Corby and inner-city areas in Leicester.

Led by Writing East Midlands, the project will be delivered by a consortium which includes Creative People and Places projects First Art and Made in Corby, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, and Museums and Development East Midlands, working with non-arts focussed organisations Age UK, Orders of St John Care Trust and University of the Third Age.

As part of WEM’s wider interest in evidencing how literature can make social change, The Elder Tree, will evaluate ‘how participating in creative writing activity affect feelings of social isolation and wellbeing in older people’ and inform our, and our partner’s, future work.

Meet the amazing group of Lead and Shadow Writers who are delivering the project, by clicking here.


The first Elder Tree residency, in Leicester, concluded in April 2019. You can read a little bit about the residency (and download a PDF copy of the I Remember: Leicester publication, by clicking here).

You can also buy a copy of the published book, by clicking here.



Henderson Mullin, Chief Executive, Writing East Midlands, said “We are absolutely delighted that ‘The Elder Tree’ has won this funding. It’ll enable us to do significant work across various communities in the region building, as we go, our understanding of how sharing arts activity can positively affect people’s lives, and strengthening the case for increased investment in this sort of work.”

The Elder Tree is part of the Celebrating Age programme, which is jointly funded by Arts Council England through the National Lottery and the Baring Foundation. It aims to tackle issues of social isolation and wellbeing in older people, encouraging them to join in group activities focused around arts and culture.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Taking part in artistic and cultural activities can make a huge difference in the lives of everyone, even more so when people are at greater risk of isolation.  The Elder Tree invites people to share stories and memories as part of a group, and this a great way to not only stimulate creativity, but to make new friends too. This will make a huge difference, helping reduce feelings of loneliness as it brings people and communities together.”