Drawing on a larger study into creative arts events for older people, we present narrative life stories for three women to illustrate some of the intersections between gender and ageing and the role that events can play in old people's lives.
Each individual narrative was created collaboratively as the women discussed their lives with each other and with the researchers. Their stories show the importance of regular creative event participation in their lives, and that the significance of this can only be understood through an appreciation of broader life experiences.
The recounting of happy and sad times had a markedly positive effect on the self-worth and social identity of both the teller and the listeners. The creative sessions created a catalyst for this to happen in a 'safe' and supportive environment. Reminiscence was also found to be restorative for these women when reflecting on life histories or, indeed, on last week's activity. Being amongst female peers, helping each other and learning from each other, appeared to build self-confidence and strengthen feelings of acceptance and belonging amongst the women involved.
The sense of achievement gained from completing an artistic artefact was also very important and undoubtedly built feelings of confidence and pride.
The sustainability of such events requires longer term commitment from government, local government and charity funders as consistency is vital.