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Let's Get Together.

COMMUNITIES came together in a display of unity during the Great Get Together at Storyhouse in Chester, organised in partnership with Brightlife.

For seven days, Storyhouse hosted communities from across the borough in a celebration of all 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.

It was to welcome and communities...

CHRIS MCCLELLAND "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.

wonderful 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 lineup - Chester Writers new established 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 company in residence Fallen Angels Dance Theatre, who performed on the main stage for the first time.

Their piece, entitled Rituals, was performed by seven members of the Chester community recovery group, who then took questions from the audience about their recovery journey through dance.

To find out more about Storyhouse and the Great Get Together visit WOMEN from a Chester-based dance company have described the power of performing on stage at Storyhouse for the first time.

The dancers from Fallen Angels Dance Theatre's Chester community recovery group performed Rituals on the main stage during the Great Get Together.

The performance was dedicated to Danielle E Jones (Dani), who died last month after taking her own life.

Her sister-in-law Colette was one of the dancers. She explained during a question and answer session with the audience how working with Fallen Angels had helped her through her grief.

She said: "It is like therapy - it is really good when I am struggling."

Rituals was performed to Tom Walker's Leave the Light On which was written about a friend struggling with addiction to let his family and friends know that it is OK to talk about it.

Artistic director Paul Bayes-Kitcher, a former Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer and recovering addict, established Fallen Angels help people in recovery from addiction.

He said: "I am so proud of the dancers - it takes guts to go out and perform."
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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 4, 2019
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