There are many ways to raise awareness on the effects of loneliness and isolation. Will Searle from Age Scotland’s Communications Team recently attended a play called ‘TeaSet’ in the Edinburgh Festival that aims to highlight social isolation among older people.
One of my favourite things about the Fringe is finding wee shows that have managed to cut past the hype of the huge behemoths everyone’s heard of and grabbed your attention. The team from Teaset did so by getting in touch with us at Age Scotland to see if we were interested in coming along to see their play. Simple and very effective!
The play is a one-woman show performed superbly by Amy Malloy. It tackles the incredibly difficult issues of loss, violence against older people and the heated debate of dying with dignity. Using the medium of intergenerational interaction, Amy tells us how she came to meet Mrs A, an older lady, who is living in her daughter’s house. Amy’s character, we never learn her name, is charged by Mrs A’s daughter to look after her whilst they go on holiday to the Carribean.
The story beautifully intersperses humour with the raw grief of loss that Amy and Mrs A have both experienced. With the intimate setting of the venue, Pleasance That, you experience the emotion that Amy expresses so viscerally, whether as her own character or when she is voicing Mrs A. You can feel the pressure as her eyes begin to well up and you really do forget that you’re in a show and not sitting opposite someone who is reliving a harrowing moment.
As a member of the Age Scotland Communications Team, I’m regularly faced with the job of being one of charity’s press team and answering the press phone. Journalists will call us for comment on the latest court case or issue that affects older people. I’m reminded on a far too regular basis of the violence that is unfortunately targeted at older people. This play tackles the difficult aftermath of how that can affect an older person but also someone of Amy’s age. It highlights the importance of building safe communities for everyone but also how we deal with the effects. Violence, when it happens to anyone, is something that needs to be managed in a sympathetic and supportive way to ensure that you can move on from that point and stop it from consuming your whole person.
I had a coffee with Amy along with the director and producer after the show and chatted to them about their experience of the show. The show had a very personal element to Amy as her own Grandmother passed away last year. It was heart-warming that the Teaset team were really concerned about the isolation facing older people and how they could use the show as a catalyst to spur people into action to make a difference. As such, they will be promoting Silver Line Friends in their programme, a volunteer opportunity with Silver Line Scotland. By donating just an hour a week you can transform the life of someone who feels they have no one to speak to. It seems such a simple concept but it really does make a life-changing difference.
I would very much urge you to go and see Teaset, it’s on at 2pm, Pleasance That, 6-23 and 29-31 August. And once you’ve done that, take the time to contact an older relative or friend. Be it a parent, a grandparent, aunt, great uncle or an old acquaintance, in doing so, you may just make the difference in their lives.