Our Projects – Intergenerational Linking

Our Approach to Human Rights

Meet our projects

We are supporting a brilliant group of local charities and community organisations to lead the project in 11 different areas across England.

This is the first time that a group of charities and organisations have been funded to start intergenerational linking in different parts of England at the same time, making Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking England’s largest scale intergenerational project!

These 11 organisations bring a wealth of their own experiences with younger and older people as well as understanding of their local landscape, and are using this knowledge to support the creation of intergenerational connections.

Find out more about our local projects by clicking each one below:

Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking local projects
Alive Activities, Bristol

About Alive

Alive aim to enrich the lives of older people in care. Alive have seven years of experience running successful intergenerational projects across the South, linking young people with older people living in care homes to work collaboratively together on a range of projects. These have included creating artwork, doing horticultural and agricultural activities, sharing life stories and experiences, developing life skills and spending time socialising.

Their project so far

2020

Alive’s Intergenerational Linking project started in August 2020 and is based across East and South Bristol. They are linking Bristol young people, including those from local youth groups, with older people living in care homes. A key focus of this work is to promote social action across the generations, empowering both younger and older people to have a positive impact on their environment and the community.

Alive’s project is using the idea of #OneGoodTurn and has been successfully forging new connections through the pandemic, despite all the difficulties posed by COVID-19, by inviting participants to perform ‘good turns’ for each other and boost each other’s wellbeing.

As part of this, one school recorded themselves singing Let it Be by the Beatles, after the people living in their linked care home shared that it was one of their favourite songs. Care home staff recorded their reactions so children could see the impact of their actions, even though COVID-19 meant they couldn’t be there in person.

Betty, who lives at the home, said – “it was a lovely performance, I saw it in my room. I have a granddaughter your age and it reminded me of her. Your singing made me smile”.

Maxine, an Activities Coordinator, added “This heartfelt song really lifted all our spirits – Children you are wonderful and again thank you from the bottom of our hearts”.

Christopher was one of the singers. He said “We wanted to do something to let them know that they weren’t alone”. “It made my day knowing it would make someone else’s day” added his friend Sam.

Over the festive period 2020 Alive ran a “Jars of Joy” initiative to share hope and kindness and to demonstrate solidarity with older people living in care homes and show that the community was thinking of them.

Both younger and older people filled jars with poems, jokes, treats, decorations and artwork, before sending them off to others across the city.

In total 179 jars were exchanged across the generations to postcodes all over Bristol! Some people living in care homes also chose to make wellbeing boxes and hampers to take to the local foodbank. From there they went to pupils and families at a nearby school and were very appreciated.

 

 

2021

At the start of 2021 the project began a focus on intergenerational resolutions. New participants and those already involved were invited to pair together across the generations to pledge their ‘one good turns’ for 2021.

The pandemic and repeated lockdowns have demonstrated the importance of community connection and solidarity more than ever, and Alive hope to focus on positive acts that are collaborative and involve giving back to one another.

As part of this, groups have “rewilded the classroom and care home” by creating beautiful flower and garden artwork to brighten up each location and welcome in Spring. Others have decorated pebbles to brighten up care home gardens.

 

 

In Summer 2021, the Maps of Memory initiative was launched, ‘exploring Bristol across the generations.’

Young people across Bristol explored local places that were of special significance to older people living in care homes, who were unable to visit themselves due to the pandemic.

The young people ventured out instead and captured their trips through drawings, photos, writings, collages and more in a specially made scrapbook to share. They also collected different souvenirs, for example tickets, bits of nature and photos to create an “armchair adventure” for the older person to discover and reminisce.

 

 

Since October 2021, fortnightly intergenerational allotment sessions have been running in Brentry, uniting young and old through nature.

All sorts of green craft activities have taken place, including miniature garden making.

The sessions take place in the daytime and so are accessible (and free) for children from the Bristol home school network, as well as older people living in care homes and people over 50 in the wider community. The practical sessions also have a section dedicated to learning about dementia and supporting others in the community.

 

 

Christmas hamper exchange

Back in December 2020, people living at Deerhurst Care Home, their families and staff members created beautiful Christmas hampers for those spending Christmas alone and for families who were in need of some extra support.

This has now turned into a yearly tradition! Once again for Christmas 2021, older people living at Deerhurst created hampers and then staff and families dropped them down to Bristol Grammar school. Here students sorted through the hampers and prepared to gift them on to others in the community. An intergenerational team effort sharing kindness at Christmas!

 

Treefest 2021
Alive Activities took part in Treefest 2021 and had their very own tree displayed at St Mary Redcliffe Church representing their community work.

This year the tree decorations were handmade by older and younger people at their dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry as part of the One Good Turn project. This included young people from Flamingo Chicks (an inclusive dance group for children living with and without disabilities) and older people from Bishopsmead Lodge care home. The decorations were a continuation of Alive’s “Jars of Joy” project from last Christmas, where participants filled up jam jars with lovely items for others in the community. This year younger and older people filled their own baubles.

 

Leading Alive’s project is Harriet Blackmore. You can find out more about Alive’s project here.

The Linking Network, Bradford

About The Linking Network

The Linking Network are a project partner for Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking (alongside My Home Life England) as well as delivering a local project in Bradford.

The Linking Network currently deliver an extensive Schools Linking programme nationally that supports classes from over 1,000 primary and secondary schools to link together and learn about identity, diversity, community and equality. Their Intergenerational Linking project adds another new strand to their linking work: different schools across Bradford will be paired with local care homes and supported in a programme of engagement through the academic year.

Their project so far

2020

The Linking Network’s project in Bradford started in July 2020, pairing schools and youth groups with local care homes and supporting younger and older people to ‘share their story’ with each other.

In the Autumn Term, staff from the linked school and care home came together virtually to find out more about each other and plan the first phase of their links. Back in the classroom, teachers introduced the project to their classes. To support this, The Linking Network created resources for teachers to help children explore “what a care home is and who might live and work there”.

Children then thought carefully about their own identity and stories before creating cards and messages to introduce themselves to the people living in their linked care home.

Care home staff also supported the residents living in the care home to send their own messages to the children at the linked school.

Children were excited to find out the stories of each of the older people they now had a connection to and have loved receiving messages back. One class were amazed to learn that an older lady they were connecting with – Margaret – went to the same school as them when she was a child!

An Activity Coordinator at Bingley Wingfield Nursing Home said “We received the lovely photos and messages about themselves from the year 2’s before Christmas.  They brought much joy to the residents!  The photos have been placed into a special scrapbook for us to look at regularly.”

 

 

Despite the challenges posed by lockdowns and home schooling, many of the links continued into the festive period, exchanging Christmas cards and sharing winter memories.

One Rainbow group met online with their linked care home once a week and discussed memories, exploring the similarities and differences of their own experiences of winter.

They then recreated these memories in beautiful artwork (and even in real life when it snowed!) and TLN helped to turn these pieces of artwork into a video to be shared.

2021

As the project moved into 2021, children and young people began to find out more about the people living in their linked care home. Both groups were then encouraged to take ownership of the next activities, which helped both younger and older people feel engaged with the project.

“I felt really joyful because we were linking with other people older than us and doing fun activities with them” — Husnain, Year 5

One school created personalised word searches for their older people to complete, based around hobbies that they said were special to them. As well as being a fun activity, the “puzzle” aspect also had cognitive benefits for the older people.

Zakriya, a Year 5 pupil said “I feel overjoyed because we made wordsearches for them and that makes me feel nice.

 

 

 

Another link created ‘a tree of togetherness’, exploring memories of their favourite journeys by passing bird shaped artwork back and forth.

A different link had conversations about what the children hoped to achieve when they were older, and those in the care home passed on wisdom and advice.

The children created a giant hanging mural of “what I’d like to be when I grow up” to hang in the care home.

 

One pupil Hafsah, said, “I felt encouraged because the older people encouraged us to follow our dreams and they’ve been giving us some hope for the future”. 

 

Leading The Linking Network’s project is Amy Lock. You can find out more about the project here.

Curriculum and Language Access Service (CLAS), Bury

About CLAS

A school-based service funded through the local authority, The Curriculum and Language Access Service (CLAS) in Bury (Greater Manchester) works to raise the expectations of minority ethnic pupils in mainstream classrooms. CLAS works in partnership with schools to ensure equality of opportunity in education and create effective educational provision for pupils with English as an additional language (EAL), refugees, asylum seekers, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and other ethnic minority pupils at risk of underachieving.

CLAS provides several training opportunities within educational services, including CPD training on promoting cultural diversity and supporting schools to promote equality and cohesion through an inclusive curriculum which ensures pupils of all backgrounds are prepared for life as active citizens of a diverse local, national and global community.

CLAS works directly with children and families who live in areas of economic deprivation, are marginalised within society and have limited opportunities for access to education, employment and leisure activities. CLAS works with these children, families and other organisations to support participation in school life, reduce inequalities and create social inclusion, including organising school and community linking activities to promote community cohesion.

Building on the success of this work and prompted by the growing number of children struggling to engage in and fully benefit from education, CLAS have recently begun a significant expansion of their community-based work. Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking fits very well into CLAS’s expansion and reflects the key organisational aims and values; offering children the opportunity to be part of community-based activity which promotes social inclusion and develops communication skills, empathy, confidence and self-worth.

CLAS hopes their new intergenerational project will create a place of fun and safety, and give participating children and older people living in care homes lasting positive relationships and a place in their local community beyond the immediate home environment.

Their project so far

CLAS began their project in Summer 2021, linking up schools and care homes across Bury.

As part of preparing their links to engage in intergenerational work, they provided each participating school with a set of books to support children’s understanding of the project.

CLAS have also been circulating monthly newsletters with key dates in that could be used for intergenerational activities.

This inspired one of the first linking activities on World Postcard Day, which coincided with International day of Older Persons – a postcard exchange.

Children designed their own postcards and the older people were thrilled to receive postcard introductions from their new younger friends!

Another school created handmade friendship bracelets to send to their to their linked care home.

Enfield Town Schools’ Partnership (ETSP)

About Enfield Town Schools’ Partnership

Enfield Town Schools’ Partnership (ETSP) is a charitable organisation set up to advance the education of children and young people in Enfield, North London and meet their social and emotional wellbeing needs. ETSP works with 21 schools across the London Borough of Enfield.

ETSP’s main purpose is to educate children and young people so they have a wealth of expertise and transferable skills. They run a wide range of enrichment projects including art exhibitions, poetry festivals, debating and spelling competitions and science exhibitions. These are shared with a wider audience, promoting community cohesion. They also deliver programmes addressing complex social challenges faced by specific children which present barriers to their learning and/or are detrimental to their physical and mental wellbeing.

ETSP wants to bridge the generational gap between children and older people. Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking will help encourage their pupils to become more active members of the community and the leaders of tomorrow. Children and young people will engage with older generations they may not usually have the opportunity to mix with. This will help to advance children’s learning through lived experiences, as well as creating positive, long-lasting memories for all generations.

“Some of our schools already link with local care homes – from occasional visits and singing carols at Christmas, to drawing pictures and sending written messages. In the past others have invited older people from the community into school to share their experiences of growing up, work and hobbies. Our schools have successfully linked these intergenerational activities to the curriculum for different year groups. To develop these existing links with care homes, and create new relationships, as part of a wider, more inclusive project which could have a really positive impact on our community is really exciting.”

Their project so far

ETSP began their project in Summer 2021, working with schools and care homes across the London Borough of Enfield. The links have got to know one another and started to plan a series of thoughtful activities that are meaningful to their younger and older people.

These have included a postcard exchange, a virtual “identity” song performance and setting up an “intergenerational linking lunch time club”.

Children from one school have also created a “day in the life of our school” video for their care home friends, including voiceovers in Turkish and Italian for those living in the care home who do not speak English. The care home will then reciprocate with their own video, to give children insight into what a care home looks like on the inside.

In the future some of the older people are hoping to speak to the children about their past experiences of living in Enfield, which ties into the curriculum very well for children learning about their local area.

ETSP have also facilitated the delivery of a dementia awareness session for school staff, and all those who attended signed up to become a ‘Dementia Friend’ at the end of the session.

 

Global Education Derby

About Global Education Derby

The main aim of Global Education Derby (GED) is to give young people the skills and attitudes to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing, globalising, and unequal world.

GED focus on the core life skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and citizenship. Young people are supported to increase their understanding about why difference of opinion and values exists. GED also provides training to teachers and youth workers which encourages thinking around approaches to education, participation, questioning and dialogue that puts young people at the centre of the learning process. GED have been co-producing and sharing significant educational resources based on their project work for nearly two decades.

Intergenerational work is an exciting new area for Global Education Derby. They currently run a successful school linking programme exploring identity, diversity, community and equality. They’ve also supported social action in small-scale youth and community projects. Global Education Derby’s in-depth understanding of both schools and of what it takes to create a meaningful exchange producing benefits for all will be so important for this project and will allow them to both offer and receive support.

“When working with young people directly, our principle is that activity should be youth-led, often working with unheard or ignored sections of the community to amplify their voices and let them tell their stories in their own way. We’ve used podcasts for local radio, showcased events, social action projects, and facilitated participation in local and national youth councils. We’ve provided opportunities for young people to gain direct experience and influence on decision-making through project steering committees with youth representation.

The framework for Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking allows us to apply our experience of other bridging activities in this new setting. The national network will support us in doing this, whilst also providing the specific expertise of working with older people that we currently lack. The rich sharing opportunities that come from being part of this sort of community of practice is a big positive for us.”

Their project so far

Global Education Derby began their project in Summer 2021, recruiting schools (including Special Schools), care homes and a youth group into the project. They’ve hosted Zoom meetings to bring participants together to share ideas and build a sense of community and commitment to the project.

They’ve also made progress in forming a local Advisory Group (with young people represented) and are hoping the group’s expertise in the NHS and Dementia Friends/Champions will help upskill the local links. GED has also initiated contact with local bodies within health and social care and will keep this wider group of interested professionals aware of the project and its impact.

Each local link across Derby is now starting to plan their programme of intergenerational linking. Activities mentioned in discussions so far include exchanging postcard messages, discussing hobbies and music tastes past and presents as well as possible use of outdoor areas and seasonal celebrations such as bonfire night.

Leeds Development Education Centre

About Leeds DEC

Leeds Development Education Centre (Leeds DEC) is an education charity specialising in supporting schools to provide an education which helps prepare young people for their future, and nurture values such as respect, co-operative thinking and fairness – values they believe are the foundations of a more socially sustainable, equitable and harmonious world.

They provide teacher training, resources and student workshops that foster greater intercultural understanding and encourage pupils to reflect on the ways they can be responsible Global Citizens. Intergenerational approaches are a key part of this – their recent Home Office-funded inter-cultural learning project was piloted with a group of young people and over 55’s.

Leeds DEC are experienced in working with young people to create and deliver their own projects, including ‘Cool 2 Care’ – young people aged 11-14 from different faiths delivered their own social action project in their local community. The ‘We are Leeds’ project brought schools and communities together to look at values, identity and discrimination. Children enjoyed games, craft and music, supported by volunteers from different communities. Local projects, including support groups for older people, also spoke to the children about their work. This led to a moving moment during a session where an older lady was speaking about her life. At the end, one of the children rushed over and gave her a big hug, a beautiful and precious moment for them both!

Through Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational linking, Leeds DEC will develop their existing relationships with schools and also build on their Schools Linking work, developing pupils’ sense of identity, diversity, equality and community. They have a passion for bringing young and older people together and will support participants from schools and care homes so that they gain maximum benefit from taking part.

Their project so far

Leeds DEC began their project in Summer 2021 and have 10 links established between local schools and care homes. A part of this introductory process they have run training sessions for the teachers in participating schools and similar sessions for care home staff.

To help aid children’s understanding of the project, the Leeds DEC team have also delivered in-person workshops in every participating school. These workshops were a huge success!

They focussed around a ‘carousel’ of 6 different activities, designed to get the children thinking about older people, who they are and the lives they may have lived.

Through engaging, hands-on activities children were introduced to a range of different props such as clothing from the 40s and 50s, an old style tennis racket, a video about older people, recordings from the past and more. The children also used this time to write an introductory postcard to their new care home friends.

They all had a brilliant time and can’t wait to start their intergenerational linking!

 

 

 

 

Caritas, Diocese of Plymouth

About Diocese of Plymouth (Caritas)

Plymouth Diocesan Trust was established for religious and educational purposes and is the charity of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth. The Diocese covers all of Devon and Cornwall and most of Dorset through a network of 67 parishes, 108 churches and a Multi-Academy Trust of 35 schools and 1 nursery.

This project will be led by the Caritas team who coordinate social action projects across the Diocese working in partnership with Plymouth CAST, the Catholic Multi-Academy Trust. Caritas supports a network of charities, schools and parishes, working in partnership to help poor, vulnerable and marginalised people. Caritas offers practical service to those in need, of all faiths and none. They support volunteering and befriending/social support networks and the Diocese runs a range of events and outreach to promote social action, including to reduce loneliness and isolation.

The Caritas Plymouth Strategy has an explicit focus on children and young people and older people and the isolated, both in terms of providing support to these groups but also enabling these groups to take social action. Their goal is to increase intergenerational relationships to bring about the social change needed for healthier older age in a rapidly ageing demographic.

“Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking provides an opportunity to build on our existing experience linking schools and older people together. We have seen for ourselves the benefits of intergenerational projects – enriching lives, developing new skills and giving a sense of living history to younger people and keeping older people connected to a rapidly changing world. Our long-term aim is to connect social action in parishes and schools to bring together our ageing population with young people in our schools. Through partnership with Plymouth CAST, we are also well placed to share project evaluation and learning across primary and secondary schools to inspire further action and outreach.”

Their project so far

Caritas began their project in Summer 2021, working with 10 primary schools across the Diocese of Plymouth who are all part of the same Catholic Multi Academy Trust (Plymouth CAST). The schools are geographically dispersed across the Diocese, in both urban and rural locations.

All have been linked with a care home and have started by getting to know each other. To help aid this process, the Caritas team have also delivered workshops in their schools on best practice in engaging with care homes, as well as sharing a newsletter every half term about the project, the research evidence that underpins it, and progress so far.

One link has started with “Our World Rocks” – an exchange of painted pebbles from the school to the care home as a way of getting to know one another.

 

Sensory Trust, Cornwall

About Sensory Trust

Based in Cornwall, Sensory Trust is a national charity with a 25-year history of using the outdoors to bring health and social benefits to those with the least opportunity to participate in their local places and communities, including children and adults with disabilities, older people living with dementia, people experiencing loneliness and carers. Many of these have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 recently; losing support networks and experiencing increased anxiety and social isolation due to shielding for long periods.

Sensory Trust use the outdoors to connect people through immersive activities that lend themselves to sharing and low-pressure social interaction. Sensory Trust has also been sought to advise and shape policy for major UK bodies like Natural England and visitor destinations, like Eden Project and National Trust.

The Creative Spaces project started in care homes before moving to the wider community, and demonstrated how outdoor spaces connect residents with the natural world and care homes with their local communities. The project has supported over 1,200 people with dementia, 3330 carers and 3391 health and care providers since 2009, and was shortlisted as Best Health Project in the National Lottery Awards 2012. A collaboration with the University of Exeter also developed the ‘My Nature’ training toolkit to enhance the quality of life for older people living in residential and nursing care, by helping care staff build skills and confidence.

Creative Spaces Project Officer, Ellie Robinson Carter, has an International Certificate in Intergenerational Practice by Generations Working Together Scotland and University of Granada, and intergenerational experience with memory cafes and schools. This led to the development of an intergenerational activity pack connecting the Creative Spaces activity groups with local primary school pupils, as well as other initiatives. Residents proudly shared their experiences and were energised by spending time with young people, who themselves gained confidence in expressing themselves more freely with a patient, non-critical companion.

“Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking is an ideal opportunity to build on the intergenerational aspects of our young and older people’s programmes. It will enable us to nurture the skills and interests of older people in nature and develop a sense of pride; whilst empowering young people to take community action to support the environment, gain skills and increase their aspirations. Nature and the outdoors provide the perfect platform for older and younger to share experiences and we often see a shared playfulness and mischievousness emerge that is mutually beneficial and helps create a truly inclusive community.”

Their project so far

Sensory Trust began their project in Summer 2021, linking schools and care homes across Cornwall and the South West. They are using their expertise in nature-based activities to ignite the initial connections and “plant the seed” for future activities between the links.

An example of one of these is the “Forest of Hope” activity that gets people to think about their similarity to trees. This activity is designed to spark new connections and empower people to realise their own strength and support systems (a bit like a tree!) and builds excitement between younger and older people about developing a connection with the other generation.

Personal messages are written on leaves and then Royal Mail acts like the wind and blows the leaves through the school and care home letterboxes!

Sensory Trust are planning a hands-on approach with a staff member being present to deliver the activities in person at a school and care home, then helping them share something between them.  They are also offering Dementia Awareness training to the young people and teachers, as well as some Dementia, Health and Nature training to care homes to give them further ideas about how they can embed a connection to nature and the outdoors into the lives of their older people.

St Philip’s Centre, Leicester

About St Philip’s Centre

The St Philip’s Centre is an interfaith charity in Leicester rooted in Christian traditions which works across many different religious and non-religious communities. They aim to empower people of all faiths and none to encounter one another in meaningful ways, build understanding, co-operation and trust. They nurture respectful and resilient individuals and also support leadership in faith communities.

The St Philip’s Centre work in partnership with a wide variety of individuals, groups and professional bodies, to encourage and model relationships of trust across difference. They do not shy away from difficult topics, running seminars on issues such as spiritual abuse. They have also been a delivery hub for the Near Neighbours programme since 2011 (funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), and have wide ranging experience in bringing people together across differences of age, ethnicity, religion and social class.

In 2019, their work with schools and colleges, allowed 12,000 young people aged 5-18 to meet with people of different faith and belief perspectives. They also participated in Mitzvah Day, a community focused social action day initiated by the Jewish community. The St Philip’s Centre has also hosted the Leicester School Linking project since 2018, facilitating meaningful encounters between pupils and students of different faiths, heritages and backgrounds.

Through Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking, The St Phillips Centre is establishing a new initiative, “Intergenerational Linking: Leicester”. Leicester is unique in its diversity and through this intergenerational linking work, Intergenational Linking: Leicester hopes to build cross generational connections between and within communities, challenge stereotypes and repair divisions exposed and exaggerated by COVID-19.

Currently, The St Phillips Centre has some experience of working with older people living in care homes, focused on infrequent links – primarily in response to requests from care homes for a visitor (for example to explain about Diwali celebrations to residents) – and are excited to grow these relationships further.

Their project so far

St Philip’s Centre began their project in Summer 2021 and are hoping to create 15 links between local primary schools, a secondary school and nearby care homes. Word has spread and they’ve also had some interest from local youth groups!

The project has so far begun with introductory Zoom meetings between each school and care home, facilitated by St Philips Centre.

Staff were introduced to the project and to a series of resources previously created by The Linking Network in their Bradford project. 

The next step was for the individual links to plan their introductory activities to allow younger and older people get to know one another. They have also been thinking carefully about how younger and older peoples’ voices are incorporated to make each project special and unique.

St Philip’s Centre are working to establish a local Advisory Group for their project and are planning a regular newsletter keeping the schools and care homes up-to-date with activity.

Windmills Foundation, Sefton

About Windmills

Windmills Foundation is a Sefton based charity working within Liverpool City Region. It empowers young people to realise their full potential and make a lasting difference as active citizens, by recognising their skills, talents, passions and values and using these to connect and contribute to their communities. With 10 years expertise of collaborating with 5,000 young people, 30 primary and secondary schools and 50 community groups, along with partnerships with Sefton Association of Primary Heads, Sefton Community and Volunteering Service and Sefton Council, the Foundation has co-created a portfolio of innovative social action projects.

Over 1,000 pupils within 25 primary schools take place in the SMILE challenge each year. Young people combine and share their unique talents to make a difference in their local community. SMILE projects generated by young people so far that have an intergenerational element include: organising bingo for older people, creating memory albums for people living with Alzheimer’s, ‘adopting’ grandparents, gardening/clearing up streets and teaching technology/social media.

The Words of Wisdom project targeted isolated and lonely older people in the community. Young people from schools and community groups provided acts of kindness to 100+ isolated older people, in exchange for gaining Words of Wisdom from their life experiences. 1 in 5 older people in Sefton do not see anyone for a month and the COVID-19 pandemic has likely escalated this. The Windmill Foundation recognise that older people living in care homes are particularly isolated, especially from interaction with young children, and are excited to be a part of Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking to create robust, long term links between care homes, young people, and schools/community groups and help combat loneliness in the Sefton community.

Their project so far

The Windmills Foundation began their project in Summer 2021 and have linked 10 primary schools with 10 care homes across Sefton.

The participating schools and children have all so far taken part in introductory sessions, where a Windmills staff member has explored the project alongside possible activity ideas. A similar session has been delivered to care home staff, people living in the home and family members. During these introduction sessions, emphasis was placed on sharing and creating ideas together to make a difference and leave a lasting legacy, as well as helping to empower youth social action as a habit and hear older people’s voices.

They’ve also made progress setting up a local Advisory Group which will have both younger and older people represented.

All involved schools and care homes have signed up to a year of engagement with one another and hopefully a joint celebration event to finish. Topics discussed so far by the links include MacMillan Coffee Morning events, Dementia Action Week, Harvest Festival, Christmas, gardening projects, postcard activities, sharing video clips and stories and more!

Woven Nest Theatre, Newcastle

About Woven Nest Theatre

Woven Nest Theatre is a multi-sensory theatre company based in the North East working with older people living in care homes, including people living with dementia. Woven Nest’s members formed a creative partnership in 2019, inspired by their own experiences as individual arts practitioners.

Using drama techniques as a vehicle for creative engagement, they bring about meaningful connection, better opportunities and positive social change in communities and improve the health and wellbeing of older people. They are experienced community-led project facilitators, leading street parades, performances, garden/community space makeovers and exhibitions that involve a wide range of audiences including care homes, community centres and schools (including Special Educational Needs schools). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Woven Nest have created a multi-sensory functional film aimed to stimulate and engage older people with limited mobility and/or advanced dementia and also facilitated online workshops with schools and care homes which have influenced a piece of COVID-19 safe promenade theatre.

Woven Nest Theatre places emphasis on the creative process, with ideas driven by and from the community. Creating a ‘failure-free’ environment, people are supported to take creative risks and barriers to participation in arts activity are reduced. Co-production is very important and each project is different to the last. Woven Nest are experienced working out in the community, accommodating to the needs of participants and the people who support them, such as teachers, carers and activities co-ordinators.

“Through our workshops we know how transformative intergenerational activity can be. We’ve seen how a group of young people can bring a new energy into the care home – even residents who haven’t engaged in activities before are usually edging closer, eager to take part. Children and older people take part in activities that are designed to stimulate their imaginations, experimenting with story, character and play. Through the power of playfulness, we can open a door for conversation and relationship building between the young and older people. In previous projects, young people developed meaningful, positive relationships with older people. Residents began to engage in activity for longer and their moods seemed significantly lifted, even hours after the children had left. Teachers noticed how children developed empathy and leadership skills and how visits had a calming effect on their class. These workshops developed into long-term relationships that still exist now with letter writing, art exchanges and video calls currently taking the place of physical visits, during COVID-19 restrictions.”

Their project so far

Woven Nest began their project in Summer 2021 and have linked 10 care homes and 10 schools across the West End of Newcastle and the Coalfields area of Sunderland.

In preparation for the project, they organised a huge postcard exchange so that children and young people could introduce themselves ahead of the project starting.

This then led to online workshops facilitated directly by artists and the Woven Next team, often in character! Young people completed a series of workshops in an imaginative world where they explored community problem solving. This helped them to engage with creative project planning and consultation ahead of their projects starting. 

Some links have already been lucky enough to meet in person, outside in a care home garden. One class performed a rap they had created especially for their older people and presented them with a banner of artwork. They then decorated the trees of the care home garden with baubles, as one of the older ladies had told them just how much she liked bubbles.

Another class also got to explore the surroundings of their linked care home garden, before the younger and older people sat outside and drew portraits of each other before exchanging them.

For Halloween, children from another school exchanged 60 pumpkin recipes with their linked care home!

Other themes and activities planned for the future include growing and cooking produce, sculpting and art projects, storytelling and photography and books of memories. 

 

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