We are working with childminders and care homes on a new 12 week course, launched this week, based on a national initiative aimed at bringing old and young together.

The national initiative driven by United for All Ages, a ‘think-do’ tank founded to create a Britain for all ages, encourages people from all generations to come together this autumn through different methods of interaction other than face to face. These could take place outdoors, online or on paper.

Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, Torbay had a thriving early years intergenerational visitation programme with fifteen care homes engaging in visits and activities with early years providers across the bay.

Sadly once lockdown restrictions were imposed the majority of this stopped. Some settings and Childminders continued to contact care home residents for chats and updates online and via social media. Some dropped off cakes and gifts for residents and some popped in to ‘window wave’ or chat through a safety barrier.

Torbay Early Years Advisory Team have developed a 12 week reconnection programme, starting this week, suggesting different weekly activities to enable children and older adults to renew existing friendships and meet new friends.

Yellow Door, publishers of award-winning, multisensory resources for children, have been central to the success of this project, kindly supporting the reconnection programme by providing free resources for everyone to engage in.

With care homes having to work within strict COVID guidelines, all of the activities will be carried out remotely and then shared online. Alternatively activities will be arranged to take place at the same time online so that children and older adults can engage in an activity together in parallel. It is hoped that moving forward, children will once again be able to visit care homes and play outside or sing-along together with their ‘older friends’.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Cordelia Law said: “This is such a heart-warming project offering so many social benefits for both the young children and the care home residents that take part. The Early Years team have done a great job, adapting the programme around the COVID restrictions, enabling the project to start up again, further building on its early success.”

Kay Jodrell, Activities Coordinator at Warberries Nursing Home who participate in the project said: “The benefits of the intergenerational programme so far are many and the joy on the faces of all involved is immeasurable.  Working together using the wonderful resources available has provided hours of meaningful engagement and fun. We have been Skypeing and letter writing throughout the pandemic and our residents are looking forward to engaging with the children again, even if it will be via Zoom.”

This week extra funding has been secured for the project from the Torbay Community Fund. This money will be used to buy additional resources to make up Intergenerational play packs for the childcare and elder care settings to use during the sessions.

To find out more about Torbay’s pioneering intergenerational project and how to get involved email earlyyears@torbay.gov.uk.

Pictured above: You may remember Noah keeping in touch with care home resident George via Skype earlier in the year. Here they are reunited more recently at George’s care home (albeit behind a plastic screen!). You can watch a video of Noah talking to George via Skype.

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