Loneliness affects many older people in our community. A Norfolk-based charity is using friendships with schoolchildren to lessen its impact. Sophie Skyring reports.
Ruby Jennings from Taverham is 10 years old and attends Drayton Junior School.
She is a Junior Ambassador for the Friend in Deed charity, which helps build intergenerational friendships between children and nursing home residents.
“It makes you feel so special and makes a difference in your life and the lives of the residents,” she said.
Ruby attended a cake-making session at Badgers Wood Care Home in Drayton two years ago during summer vacation, then continued to attend events there and began to tour the home after school care.
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Obtaining the maximum amount of funding from the Alec Dickson Trust, Ruby was able to organize activities to build even more intergenerational friendships.
Ruby said: “My favorite activities were a snack I made with my class for intergenerational friendships and we also made William Morris inspired bags.”
She added, “I have some money left so I could spend it on another cupcake-making activity over the summer vacation.”
Claire Chilvers, Health and Social Services Coordinator at Badgers Wood, said: “Ruby’s activities have a huge impact on the lives of our residents.
She added, “It’s so rewarding as a care provider to see their faces light up and see the connection between children and residents. ”
Maurice Hovells, a nursing home resident, said: “It’s so wonderful that we have such a high level of intergenerational input here at Badgers Wood.
“The Friend In Deed project and everything Ruby has done for us with its grant is making such a difference in our lives.
“We all love seeing the kids, hearing their chatter and laughter, and I feel blessed to be able to be a part of their lives as much as they are a part of ours. Thank you on behalf of all the residents who live here.
Ms Chilvers added: “Friendship relationships have such a positive effect on both sides – it creates a level of understanding, where these relationships usually don’t have a chance to develop.”
Elsewhere, Emily Powley, of Horsford, has two children who are also involved in Friend in Deed, Vinnie, three, and Oliver, four.
“Oliver and Vinnie love to go to Chiswick House, they often take their toys and show them to the residents,” she said.
She added, “It has done so much for the confidence of my children, and it has taught them to have a lot of respect for the elderly. I also think it helps the elderly, it makes them happy. ”
Sophie Todd, 20, from Norwich, has been involved with the association for three or four years.
She said, “I did this as part of my community service for the sixth grade, I was going to sing to the residents, I also enjoyed printing the lyrics and distributing them so that the residents could join in the songs.
“For anyone considering being a part of it, I would say GET GO, you have nothing to lose. They often have entertainment rotations where there is bingo or art sessions, just go say hello, participate, you won’t regret it.
Kelly Lindsay, director of the charity, said: “Everything we do at Friend in Deed is about kindness and we truly believe that we can make the world a happier and more personable one, a conversation, an action. and one community at a time. “
She added, “Intergenerational friendships are a great way for younger people to learn empathy, tolerance and kindness. If kids learn these things as young as possible, they’ll probably be kind to everyone around them. ‘them, including the other children.
“Our older friends in nursing homes still have so much to offer, we need to make sure they are always included in our communities, have purpose and don’t feel isolated.”