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Projects forge friendships between young and old

Posted on 16 Sep 2019

Younger and older residents have been benefitting from a fantastic programme of intergenerational activities across North Ayrshire.

From primary school pupils joining residents of care homes for songs and games, to community groups bringing together older and younger people to share their stories, intergenerational working promotes a better understanding and respect between generations, building more connected communities and helping to address stigma.

One example involved Primary 6 pupils from Dykesmains Primary in Saltcoats, who teamed up with North Ayrshire Council’s Library service to teach digital skills to service users at Castleview in Ardrossan. The DabbleGen programme was funded by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and aims to increase digital participation and reduce social isolation.

St Mark’s Primary School in Irvine has established a relationship with Vennel Gardens Community Hub, with a wide range of activities occurring through this collaboration.

Pupils and older participants have shared meals together, undertook activities such as Zumba and yoga, and shared assemblies or joint celebrations to mark various special days throughout the year. The partnership is going from “strength to strength” and has become an integrated part of the school community.

And St Winning’s Primary School in Kilwinning has been developing a wide range of intergenerational working opportunities with a number of partners in their local community, forming close links with the likes of Buckreddan Care Home, Chalybeate Sheltered Housing, St Winin’s Over 60’s Club and Woodland View Dementia Unit in Irvine.

Projects have included working in partnership with Lingo Flamingo to teach Spanish to older members of the local community, activities involving Scottish songs and Burns poems, and conversations involving both the pupils and older participants.

These mutually beneficial sessions have had a big impact on both the pupils and older members of the community, with comments ranging from “I loved hearing about the olden days,” from one St Winning’s pupil, to “the children were amazing – beautiful voices – it takes me back,” from a resident at Chalybeate.

St Winning’s Primary School head teacher Claire Milson said: “Intergenerational work brings people together – to everyone’s benefit.

“We all share and learn new skills, new knowledge and values. It promotes greater understanding between generations and tackles ageism.”

Councillor John Bell, Cabinet Member for Education and Youth Employment, said: “We are delighted that a number of our primary schools have been able to take part in these intergenerational activities.”

“Forging relationships between our younger and older residents is so important. Our older people have a lifetime’s worth of wisdom and experience to share, yet connections between the younger and older generations have sadly become less common in recent times.”

“There’s no doubt that the children get so much out of these sessions, and there are also many benefits for the older people, who might learn about new technology, have a renewed sense of purpose or gain emotional satisfaction through the projects.”

Partnership working between North Ayrshire Council’s Education service, North Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership and the Connected Communities service has now led to the creation of a North Ayrshire intergenerational working case study booklet.

This booklet shares some of the excellent examples of the work taking place across North Ayrshire and highlights the huge advantages this has for our residents.

To find out more about intergenerational working in your local area, visit North Ayrshire’s Community Planning Partnership website here, where you can download the case study booklet.

The website also features an interactive map which shows schools, community groups and care facilities for older people who are interested in developing intergenerational working in their community.