In 2018, our partners InCommon, started an intergenerational project to bring together our older residents with primary school students so that they could spend time together, share experiences and learn from one another. A number of residents from our Independent Living schemes in Bexley took part, including those who live at Sherwood House, Flaxman Court and Lambert Court.
Everyone met face-to-face so that our residents could share stories about what it was like to grow up in a different time. They took part in coffee mornings, an inclusive ‘Design a town’ exercise and residents shared information about the Second World War through an exhibition of memorabilia. Our residents also enjoyed teaching students some of the games they played when they were younger, including tiddlywinks.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic, face-to-face sessions had to be cancelled as most of the older residents were shielding. However, they turned to phone and zoom calls so that they could still regularly meet – a welcome break for everyone during a time where many of us felt more isolated. They pulled together a cookbook called Generations Swap and they also produced a book of short stories called Buddies’ Adventures: Tales told by Young and Old’. Copies were printed and shared with everyone involved, a souvenir of a time none of us will forget anytime soon.
The students also kept in touch by sending postcards and painting bird feeders for the outdoor garden at the scheme. The residents loved receiving these gifts and it made a difficult time so much easier, knowing that they were valued and not forgotten.
At Christmas, everyone was finally able to get together again for a socially distanced afternoon of carol singing at Hayley House. The children sang with such enthusiasm and energy, that soon everyone was singing along, and a great time was had by all. One resident said: “The children were so into the performance that you really couldn’t help but smile and join in!” Another said: “It really got the Christmas atmosphere started!” Everyone agreed that it was the best caroling sing along they had ever had at Hayley House.
InCommon will continue to deliver this valuable project which really makes a real difference to our residents by encouraging them to participate in the wider community, but also to the students by learning about real life history and making new friends. To find out more, please visit InCommon's website.