Social media


People can be lonely at any age, but when you are older it seems to become more common. The physical problems of getting out and about, the death of friends and partners, the difficulties of managing on a fixed income, or the isolation of impairments like deafness, can all make it harder to make friends or stay in contact with the family and friends you have.

Social media is one way to reach out, but many older people are not online and are baffled or frightened by new technology. Being online is empowering too – being able to apply for your own blue badge, search for insurance or utility deals, or order a delivery from a supermarket, without having to ask for help helps people feel in control of their lives.

Last year Age UK Barnet helped 300 people learn to get online, working with 9 secondary schools and sixth form colleges, two primary schools and Mapledown School. They also held one off workshops with companies like John Lewis and Geeks on Wheels, as well as drop-in sessions at 5 libraries.

The feedback was great – all the people we asked came away feeling happy with the session, more confident with IT, and would recommend it to friends.

The classes are one-on-one, so older people can learn at their own pace and focus on what they want, whether that is their first Skype to distant family, or their first Facebook message to a grandchild. It also means that they can build a relationship with the students who are teaching them. And that, in my mind, is a very good thing, because working together breaks down those stereotypes – that older people are slow, humourless, weak and pitiable, and that teenagers are lazy, selfish, and aggressive, and let us all see each other as people. One woman told me that, before she took this class, if she saw a large group of teenagers at the bus stop she would have felt too intimidated to join them, but now she sees them differently, and one sixth-former told me that before he had taught our clients he had never had to communicate with a deaf person before, but he now knew to make eye contact and not use slang.

Age UK Barnet’s digital inclusion project is called MiCommunity, because ultimately it is about building a community. The internet community doesn’t have the same boundaries of borough, city and country that Barnet has, but it is a community nonetheless, so I would like to extend thanks to two artists who live nowhere near here, but picked up the call on Twitter and responded by sending in a postcard.

Louisa Crispin @louisacrispin draws delicate, intimate nature studies. There is a quietness to her work, which is compelling, in the same way that a quiet voice in a rowdy room can force you to stop, focus and really listen. You can see examples here:

Lis Watkins @lineandwash paints utterly charming watercolours of urban scenes. London comes to life under her lively palette and unsentimental eye. You can see more of her work here

Back in the local community, Finchley Art Society, who supported both last year and this year’s sale, are holding an exhibition in the Trinty Church Concourse, Nether St N12 7NN from 8-23 Nov. Mon – Thurs 9am -9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-6pm ans Sun 2pm-6pm. Do pop along to support them. Below is one of their contributions from last year, by Loretta de Lange.

Thank you all.



A couple of events in the run up to the Secret Postcard Sale


Stretch your fingers and get drawing for the Secret Postcard Sale.

In the run up to the sale Age UK Barnet will be with Grange Big Local at the Vale Farm Allotments carboot sale on 19 Oct 10am-2pm Tarling Road. Come along and find out more about both of organisations.

Come along for information about both of us, gardening tips, tea and cake and the usual carboot rummage.

I will also be at Boyden’s Kitchen in Church Lane N2 from 2.30pm on 5 Nov with blank postcards and pens at the ready if you want to come along. Bring yourselves, bring the kids and make a postcard for the sale.

Many thanks to Helen and Ben from Boyden’s Kitchen for their support, and to Janine and Lyndsey from Vale Farm Allotments.


Butterflies of excitement – Dame Zandra Rhodes


Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE (74) started her career as a textile designer, with colour and print central to her work. Her collection of pink and black jersey in 1977 saw her dubbed the Princess of Punk.

She has designed clothes for Diana, Princess of Wales, Jackie Onassis, Bianca Jagger, Freddie Mercury, Elizabeth Taylor, Kylie Minogue, Helen Mirren and Isabella Blow.

Her vintage pieces have been collected by Tom Ford and Anna Sui. It is also held in numerous museum collections around the world, including the V&A in London, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Musee de la Mode et du Textile in Paris.

She continues to design clothes, costumes for opera, china and jewellery.

In 2003 she set up the Museum of Fashion and Textiles in London. She is also Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts.

She was awarded a Commander of the British Empire in 1997 and made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List in 2014

Her archive of sresses and drawings can be seen here

Dame Zandra has long been a supporter of both local and international charities. From supporting the NSPCC with the showing of her 1980 collection, to her recent appointment as a London Breast Cancer Ambassador, her generosity leaves us in awe.

It is therefore with huge gratitude that we have a postcard by Dame Zandra Rhodes included in this year’s sale. Her work has been described as graceful, bold, dramatic and feminine, with inspiration drawn from nature. Will you be able to spot her card?


Working Together for the Older Generation in Barnet


Yesterday Barnet Council published the annual report of the Neighbourhood Services project, a review of the first year of a new way of collaborating for many of the charities working to support older people in Barnet. I’m really proud of the success it has been. Some of the charities are large, like Jewish Care, some small, like Barnet Asian Women’s Association. Some focus their work on specific BMER groups, like CROFTE (which supports Tamil elders) or Anand, and others focus on specific areas of the borough, like FIN or the Good Neighbour Scheme in Mill Hill.

All of them have worked together, under the independent chair Gillian Jordan, to share information, knowledge, resources and their own perspectives. Together we are helping more older people than ever, in more places and in more ways.

In the end, it doesn’t matter to me whether older people are supported by Age UK Barnet, or by RSVP, or one of the many other charities in the provider group. What matters is that older people get the support and advice they need, in the most appropriate way.

You can read more about the groups achievements here:

And so it was with particular pleasure that I received a wonderful bundle of postcards from Alex Georgiou, the interim manager at Barnet African Caribbean Association, in support of the postcard sale. Alex has a degree from Chelsea College of Art and has worked as both an art teacher and a window and exhibition display artist in the past.

Her work and generosity are greatly appreciated. I’m sure you will enjoy them at the sale.

Thanks so much Alex- you are really amazing.

Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale 2014 – Magnus Irvin


Magnus Irvin is another artist who has kindly agreed to contribute to the Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale for the second time in a row.

His work is held in the collections of the V&A, the British Museum, the Arts Council of Britain, the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. He is a founder member of the London Institute of Pataphysics and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. And he is utterly lovely.

You kind find his work on his website here – the surreal, the scatological and the seascapes.  His work is beautiful, funny and brilliant, imbued with mischief and wonder.

However, for those readers of a delicate disposition, unwilling to explore the sections of his website entitled “poo” or “anus”, here is a lovely film of the man in action, painting something rather larger than a postcard.

Thank you so much Captain Magno, for all the sweetness and joy you bring.

A Community Effort – Local Businesses and Local Charity


The Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale – another little preview.

The relationship between local businesses and local charities is a complex one, but they both support each other.  Sometimes the relationships are easy to understand – the estate agents who sponsor primary school fairs for example. Both the schools and the agents benefit from the advertising placards, but the agents also benefit from having good, well-supported schools, because a good school pushes up house prices and therefore the commission the agents can achieve.

The relationship between Age UK Barnet and the businesses which kindly support it is a little less straightforward.  I could tell you that Age UK Barnet’s benefit advice service put £165,000 into the pockets of older people last year, money which is likely to be spent locally, rather than online or in town. I could also tell you that, whilst 14% of older people in Barnet live in poverty, the section of the community with the most available income is the 55-65 age group (who are often caring for their parents, our clients).

Older people both need and support local shops and services, because many are not online, and find transport a problem. A thriving high street is a necessity for them.

But generally the shops and businesses which support Age UK Barnet, like Tally Ho Discount @thfruitandveg or Funky Flowers @lisanthusliz, who helped support the recent fundraising concert that raised £1,600, do it out of kindness. And in return, I would like to express my gratitude to them and to the local businesses who have offered to make postcards for the Secret Postcard Sale.

Planet Jump @planet_jump_dw – supercool animators who donated last year too

Insight School of Art @paul_regan – art classes for 6-18 year olds

Maven Design – @mavendesign – websites and branding

Artists Resource @artistsresource – Art and Craft workshops for children and adults

Frame Stop @frame_stop – framing

Ann Froomberg Design – @annfroomberg – hand painted silks scarves and textiles and another second time contributor

Thank you all for your generosity

If anyone reading this would like to take part, please see more details here







Secret Postcard Sale – Carrie Reichardt

One of the artists who has already promised a postcard for the Secret Postcard Sale in aid of Age UK Barnet is craftivist Carrie Reichardt.

You can see her work at the moment in the V&A.

There is another review of the show here

Follow her on Twitter @carriereichardt

Thank you Carrie.

For more information about the sale and how you can take part take a look here