Pensioners are channelling their inner Banksy to fend off social isolation

Graffiti Grandparents gives elderly Wheatley Group tenants in Glasgow a chance to take up street art and banish loneliness

Normally, you won’t find many pensioners picking up a paint can to tag the city – but it’s proving a powerful way to fend off social isolation and loneliness among housing association tenants in Glasgow.

The wonderfully alliterative Graffiti Grandparents let elderly residents with Wheatley Group’s Loretto and Glasgow housing associations get a lesson in street art at arts venue SWG3 in the city’s Partick area.

They channelled their inner Banksys to create large-scale murals themed around the group’s Livingwell service – as well as getting a tour of the other murals at the centre and the history and heritage of street art from Dave Knox, who took the session.

Graffiti Grandparents
The pensioners got a chance to brush up their art skills and meet new people

“People have a misconception that graffiti art is just for young people. We need to break down that barrier,” he said.

“It is good to get the message across that it is for everyone and everyone can have a shot at expressing themselves.”


The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

The scheme is open to all the tenants who receive the Livingwell service, which is designed to help older people live in their homes for longer and connect them to their community.

And it was a big hit with the pensioners who grabbed a paint can to get involved with the session.

Loretto Housing tenant, Agnes Wilson, 81, from Partickhill, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had great fun. It’s a great crowd of people.

Graffiti Grandparents
Street artist Dave Knox put the pensioner painters through their paces

“I have done art in the past, but more landscapes and animals. This is totally different.

“I keep waiting for the police to come up and chase me.”

Glasgow Housing Association tenant Thomas Grady, who is 75 and lives in Carntyne, added: “This gets the imagination going. I have really enjoyed it – being in the sun, meeting new people and working with all these lovely colours. I have been to a craft class before but this is completely different.”

Images: Loretto Housing