Communities came together in a display of unity during last week’s Great Get Together at Storyhouse, organised in partnership with Brightlife.
For seven days (17 – 23 June) Storyhouse hosted communities from across the borough in a celebration of all that we have in common. The free programme offered arts and crafts, performances, creative workshops, film and a marketplace.
Nicola Haigh, Community Programme Manager at Storyhouse said:
It was wonderful to welcome new and established communities of all ages and backgrounds to Storyhouse during what has become a national celebration of coming together. The festival offered the opportunity for Chester’s thriving creative communities to collaborate and share one another’s ideas and activity for free. A highlight for me was seeing school pupils and their families from The Oaks Community Primary School in Ellesmere Port perform on Storyhouse’s main stage. They were all stars!
Chris McClelland, Head of Brightlife said:
It was great to see so many older members of our community leading activities, volunteering or just coming along to have some fun and sample new experiences in friendly company. Loneliness and social isolation are still a major problem in the UK so events like Storyhouse’s Great Get Together really help keep the spotlight on Jo Cox’s inspirational vision that we have more in common than that which divides us. This was the third festival of its kind and a significant milestone for Brightlife as it provided a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the work we are doing with Cheshire West and Chester to become an Age-friendly borough
The stage was given to the community as a dozen choirs performed in Storyhouse’s Kitchen: Choir with Name – whose members have all experienced homelessness performed a moving set, Chester LGBT choir Proud Mary gave a rousing performance on Saturday and pupils from Chester Blue Coat CE Primary sang accompanied by their jazz band.
The Human Library returned to Storyhouse’s award-winning library with books including Romani Gypsy, depressed and disabled. The Great Get Together Shared Lunch hosted school children and members of the borough’s older community – who sat together to enjoy lunch in Storyhouse’s restaurant the Kitchen. Regular Storyhouse groups joined the line-up – Chester Writers offered a session for budding and accomplished storytellers and Relish shared reading group.
Older people and celebrating intergenerational activity were once again a festival theme: members of Digital Buddies – a weekly volunteer-led community that supports over 50s with all things digital took part in a mass skype session linking with a community group in China, organised in partnership with the University of Chester’s China centre.
Workshops included pyrography, turning memories into art, knitting cannula sleeves, dementia-friendly clay workshops, LEGO building and ukulele jams. Wellbeing was at the heart of the programme with Tai Chi sessions, group-led life coaching and ballet classes designed for older people.
Storyhouse’s cinema programmed dementia-friendly screenings of Pixar’s Up and biopic Amazing Grace plus to mark Refugee Week Welcome to Britain and Great Get Together Short Stories.
A highlight for the festival was Storyhouse’s company in residence: Fallen Angles Dance Theatre perform their latest piece Rituals on the main stage.