Breckland Council – The Silver Social

Shortlisted for the Best Local Authority Arts Initiative in the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2019


The Silver Social is an ambitious programme of daytime events aimed at older people, in community venues across Breckland, Norfolk. The Project uses a range of art forms, delivered by professional practitioners, to promote participation and independent living in our communities.

The Silver Social holds events in libraries, village halls, museums and other familiar community spaces, in target areas across Breckland, taking a range of art forms to non-traditional venues.  One of the key aspirations of the project is to tackle isolation and loneliness in the older community, and therefore as a result improving the health outcomes for these individuals.

A need for the project was identified as Breckland is an area with high volumes of older residents, with one third of our residents over the age of 60 years (38,000).  Breckland also has 5860 residents that have been identified as being at risk of isolation.  Breckland has also identified through the Active Lives survey as an area with lower than average engagement with Arts across all forms, participatory and performance as well as attendance at Libraries and Museums.

Managed by Breckland Council, the Project works with partners to govern and deliver the project.  These partners include; Creative Arts East, Norfolk Library Services, Norfolk Museums Service, Breckland Older People’s Forum, Norfolk County Council Public Health and The Audience Agency.  This strong partnership is key to the successful delivery and ongoing evaluation and evolution of the programme  The project is trialling new ideas and ways of delivering arts in a rural setting.

The outside of the Silver Social arts offer in Breckland is reliant on the rural touring circuits that take place in the evening.  The Silver Social programmes solely daytime activities in an attempt to remove the potential barrier of going out in the evening that some of the residents may have.  The project also provides transport to enable people to access performances and participatory activities to make the programme more inclusive.

After the first year the project there have been 622 engagements.  The initial evaluation shows we are reaching our target audience, with 35% of our audience living alone and 89% of attendees being over 60.  Three in four respondents agreed that the activity helped them to try out new activities and pastimes (74%), put them in touch with other people (72%) and helped them feel part of their community (71%).  The impact of the project is clear and we expect it to increase further over the next year as we develop our community engagement and grow the audience, through improved marketing and working with local social prescribing working streams that are launching in Norfolk.    For more information please visit

What the judges had to say:

“An exciting programme bringing a diversity of quality creative experiences in social settings to hundreds of over 60s across Norfolk, tackling loneliness and promoting creative living in towns and more isolated villages, whilst building local volunteering too.”

“An ambitious project using a wide range of arts engagement to address isolation among older people.”

I hope the results of this important programme will be able to be shared with other councils, and that more details of the impacts will be developed as the programme continues.”