‘Active citizens’ building intercultural friendships
Alexander House in Derry/Londonderry is the setting for a very special gathering every Wednesday morning. The scheme, owned by Apex Housing Association, is the venue for ‘Active Citizens Engaged’, an intercultural group for older people from the local area and the Chinese community who live here in the city.
Karen Scrivens is group leader and voluntarily organises the programme of activities:
When I turned 55 I realised that there was so much information that I didn’t have as an older person and it didn’t take me long to realise others were in the same boat. This group has allowed us to get together for a coffee morning every week, whilst also hearing about lots of things we wouldn’t know about otherwise.
The group has done everything from line dancing to cooking and we also hear from organisations on topics like health and wellbeing and take part in surveys and consultations. We’ve also been trained in things like first aid and been treated to music from the Ulster Orchestra.
As the group is multicultural, it allows us all to socialise and learn from each other. Alexander House is the perfect venue as it’s so central and after our gathering members can walk into the town for a bit of shopping!
Letty Parkhill is one of the members of the group and has been attending every week for the last eight months:
I look forward to coming along every week. Before I joined the group I had very little contact with the Chinese community but they are so friendly and welcoming. We have enjoyed sharing our traditional cooking with each other and in February we travelled to Belfast to see a Chinese New Year show in the Ulster Hall. It was absolutely brilliant.
Karen provides a great programme of activities. One week we went to Inch Island in County Donegal for a bit of walk and a picnic; it was lovely. Another week we had musicians from the Ulster Orchestra come and play for us. It’s a great group and I’m happy to be part of it.