Generating closer community ties

Older person living in a care home (credit My Home Life)
Older people living in care homes will be connected with young people in the borough through the project (credit My Home Life)

Emma Kolaru from Enfield Town Schools’ Partnership on the launch of a new intergenerational project in the borough

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us all how much social interaction and friendships matter.

We’ve seen how reduced family and friendship contact has increased isolation and loneliness across our community, especially in older people. I am passionate about providing children and young people with opportunities that allow them to develop as individuals and which support them to make positive change.

This is why I am thrilled that Enfield Town Schools’ Partnership (ETSP) has been awarded funding to deliver an intergenerational project in Enfield. It forms part of a national initiative called ‘Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking’ – from charities My Home Life England and The Linking Network – which is bringing young people from schools and youth organisations together with older people living in care homes across England.

The project will give children and older people living in care homes the opportunity to come together to share in new experiences, learning, stories and laughter. A key focus is to promote social action across the generations, empowering both younger and older people to have a positive impact on our community. It will help improve children and young people’s confidence and develop their social and leadership skills, as well as develop and strengthen community connections.

Anna Theodosiou, Bush Hill Park Primary School’s headteacher and chair of ETSP, says: “Our drive is positive change. We will offer pupils from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to be decision-makers on our intergenerational project, which will bring a creative and unique perspective that can influence outcomes and benefit all involved.”

Throughout the pandemic everyone has become more aware, and appreciative, of a wider range of jobs which have sustained the country during a period of immense social disruption. Care home workers have been part of this vital group of ‘key workers’ who have supported our communities by helping keep vulnerable older people safe.

It is my hope that this project will continue to raise awareness of how vital these roles are. We plan to invite a representative from this group to sit on an advisory group to help direct the project’s delivery.

We all need to work in this new ‘Covid environment’ for some time yet so protecting the most vulnerable in our community will be a key element of this project. These challenges, however, also present learning opportunities for everyone involved. I am excited about working on a project which will be designed by the programme users and will need to combine online interaction with face-to-face experiences for both the younger and older generations.

The ultimate aim is to embed a culture of community within our schools. Wouldn’t it be great to equip our children and young people to tackle global issues locally and show that small positive actions can all make a big difference?

The project is jointly supported by The Dunhill Medical Trust, an independently-awarded funder; the #iwill Fund, from the National Lottery Community Fund; and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. I’d like to thank all the organisations funding this project. We are incredibly grateful to you and I, for one, can’t wait to get started!

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