Our story

Age Exchange made history 40 years ago, as the first organisation in Europe dedicated to reminiscence and intergenerational arts. The charity was founded in Blackheath in 1983 and the reminiscence centre opened in 1987.

Age Exchange began life as a theatre company exploring inter-generational reminiscence and storytelling. Local and national funding enabled us to develop reminiscence workshops, training and research. By 1987 we launched our Reminiscence Centre in Blackheath, now our Community Cafe, which was opened by former patron Glenda Jackson. Many projects followed both in the UK and across Europe. Thanks to funding partners Age Exchange relocated our successful reminiscence practice into dementia projects, community outreach, youth theatre and expanded our schools programme. By 1995 we upgraded our infamous Bakehouse Theatre space into a renowned reminiscence arts and training centre. With our partner, Community Integrated Care, we continue to write our own story and help others unlock and understand their own.

Today, we continue to break boundaries as the only arts charity embedded within in a social care provider, as a subsidiary charity of Community Integrated Care. Age Exchange, with Community Integrated Care, has a unique mission to bring arts, culture and creative expression into the lives of thousands of people who draw upon social care, live with dementia and face isolation.

Community Integrated Care employs 6,000 staff and delivers 10 million hours of care annually. Community Integrated Care sought an innovative arts partner, capable of scaling to bring creativity and social connection into the lives of the people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns, brain injuries and dementia.

We are more than just a dementia service

The founders of Age Exchange realised that people living with dementia still have much to contribute to society and they are very much part of our vibrant community in Blackheath.

As a charity we rely on our incredible volunteers. Age Exchange promotes and supports active ageing by bringing people together.

Our unique approach to dementia intervention has an incredible impact of quality of life, helping people to rediscover their voice, their ability to dance or simply to have fun again.

Our goals

  • Reduce isolation and loneliness amongst older people and people with learning disabilities through access to the arts
  • Promote intergenerational understanding through creativity and culture
  • Improve the quality of life and care for older people, people affected by dementia and people with a learning disability through access to the arts
  • Support carers to maintain their health, happiness and wellbeing

Age Exchange strives to be person-centred, creative, open and inclusive in all that we do. We believe that these values are central to health and wellbeing.

Our values

  • People are at the heart of everything that we do. We believe that focusing on the individual, their stories and experiences is the cornerstone of reducing loneliness and improving wellbeing.
  • We use the creative arts as the basis for our reminiscence work.
  • We want to create an environment where everyone feels valued and included. We recognise that differences exist and thus respond to individual needs.