Many of you will know, that I live in Blackheath, London and I have done for most of my life. Living in the area for so long has meant that I’ve been to most of the restaurants, shops and other amenities that Blackheath has to offer – including Age Exchange located in the heart of Blackheath Village! So, when they reached out and invited me to visit and write up a blog post: how could I refuse!
I thought (being a current A-Level student) that it would be wise to visit Age Exchange and get on with some revision – boring, yes, but you gotta do what you gotta do! I got some revision done on representative democracy – this isn’t a politics lesson, I promise! I enjoyed a great coffee in the cafe and a slice of cake – which went down a treat after a long day at college. One great addition to the cafe – which I love – is the fact that they have the main seating area towards the rear of their building but towards the front, they’ve got a quiet zone. So knuckling down and prepping for those exams was easy in an environment where I wouldn’t be disturbed. The cafe is great for small groups to meet up and do some studying or just hang out. Plus free WiFi, which is awesome!
After I managed to drag myself away from my revision (believe me that was easy) I went and had a look around Age Exchange. I didn’t even know this myself but they’ve got a secret garden at the rear of their building. It’s so nice and peaceful and it is just a mini-escape from the hustle and bustle of Blackheath Village. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t exactly on my side when I visited but it wasn’t hard to imagine what a vibrant space their garden is going to be in the summer; believe me I will most certainly be returning.
And if that wasn’t enough for you, they even have the Blackheath Community Library located on the lower level of their building. This little library is phenomenal, with a wealth of books from cookbooks to biographies. I’m sure that you’ll find something that suits your taste! The library is equipped with a small computer area as well. This enables members of the community to have free access to computers and they can have any tech support, they may need, while surfing the internet. Living in an ever-evolving digital world, we can often forget that the older members of society may not be able to keep up with technology. So having this space is vitally important so they can be supported in getting online and accessing emails, social media and online shopping etc.
While looking around the Library, It was great to speak with the librarian Jane, who formerly worked at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park. Jane was one of the founding members of the Astronomy Society. After retiring from the Royal Observatory, Jane wanted to give back to her community and she now volunteers with Age Exchange. She mentioned that she loves engaging with the community and just being there for the people who use Age Exchange, some of who may just want a friendly chat about their day.
With all the awesome services and spaces that Age Exchange offer. It is interesting to acknowledge that it was originally founded as a centre of Reminiscence and Intergenerational Arts. At Age Exchange their main mission is to use Reminiscence and Intergenerational Arts to change lives. The organisation as a whole has a number of goals: from reducing isolation and loneliness to improving the quality of life of older people and those with dementia. This definitely makes you think about the positive impact, just dropping some loose change into their collection tin or, grabbing a tea or coffee in Age Exchange can do in regards to ensuring they can continue to facilitate their fantastic work.
Age Exchange is also such a person-centred place to be; I really felt that during my visit. Staff are so friendly and I can see they genuinely care. It was nice to be able to have a friendly chat in what is such an open and inclusive environment to be in.
Overall, my visit to Age Exchange was amazing and I’m definitely going to be utilising their space more often. I would 100% recommend you check out Age Exchange. I can guarantee you that you’ll have a great time!
Thanks for reading.
By Sheldon Allen