AN INNOVATE project aims to help combat loneliness among the elderly and help them reconnect with or newly discover their creative side.

Thirsk charity Rural Arts is today launching its new Art On Your Doorstep initiative to bring art and cultural activities directly to the homes of older people in the area.

The unique service will connect artists with elderly residents of rural locations across Hambleton so they can enjoy one-to-one art sessions in their own homes. Artists and musicians will travel alongside mobile shop suppliers like Pollard’s of Thirkleby, to visit people using these services.

Rural Arts is partnering with Thirsk Community Care to deliver the project, which is hoped will help improve residents’ health, wellbeing and confidence, as well as tackling isolation and loneliness.

Angela Hall, director at Rural Arts, explained: “We see the positive impact that older people can enjoy from taking part in creative activities.

“We launched Art On Your Doorstep to increase participation so more people can benefit.”

As the scheme gathers momentum, the artists will encourage participants to progress their skills so they can join in group art activities and cultural performances in their local community.

The activities on offer are wide ranging, and include many different crafts, from pottery to poetry.

Rural Arts will offer dedicated workshops and relaxed matinee performances at Rural Arts’ venue, The Courthouse.

Performers will also be on the road touring community services like lunch clubs and supported shopping trips.

The project, which will run for two years, is the first of its kind for the area and is being funded by Arts Council England, The Baring Foundation and North Yorkshire County Council.

A special event is taking place this afternoon at The Courthouse in Thirsk to celebrate its launch.

Older residents and key community groups have been invited to the venue to sample the sessions offered by participating artists.

Lunch is being provided, and advisors from Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Age UK North Yorkshire and Thirsk Community Care will be there.

By the organisations and charities working collaboratively it is hoped that potential users of the service will be quickly identified and will soon start to benefit from the arts being brought literally to their doorstep.