A local Torbay scheme is bringing children and care home residents together for an intergenerational music and song writing project.

Rebuilding Bridges is a new project funded by the Arts Council, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Torbay Music Hub supported by the Torbay Early Years Advisory Team.

The project which started earlier this month will run weekly for a period of eight weeks in three care homes across Torbay.

At each session a group of three to four childminders goes into the care home with a group of around ten pre-school aged children. Together with a core group of residents and staff they will make music, sing songs, play instruments, conduct, laugh and be creative. To ensure the safety of the care home residents, the children take part in the sessions from the garden of the care home, with residents participating from inside (with doors to the garden open).

Led by Hugh Nankivell alongside colleague Steve Sowden, the project will be evaluated by Kathrin Paal from Plymouth University and Lois Peach from Bristol University who will be evaluating the importance and value of intergenerational activity.

There is growing awareness about the benefits of intergenerational learning. Music therapy is increasingly recognised for its value in creating meaningful connections with the elderly and young alike.

For older adults the benefits from participation impact positively upon their physical and mental health and well-being. For children intergenerational learning improves their confidence, speech and language and their self-esteem.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Torbay Council said “This is the second intergenerational programme that Torbay’s Early Years Advisory Team have been involved in. Interactive projects such as these allow young and old to come together, share experiences, improve confidence and their overall wellbeing. Not only do the participants get so much enjoyment out of the sessions, but staff in the care homes also get to experience the emotional uplifting effect on residents.”

Sam Ebdon, Manager of Pendennis Care Home said: “We have found that our residents have so much fun with the children, they can share memories and take on a role of 'grand parenting' with them by becoming involved with the activities that are happening. Also, it is lovely to see some of our residents that are reluctant to interact with others, doing so with the children. We recognise the value in this type of activity and welcome the opportunity to provide additional enrichment to the lives of our residents, whilst also participating in this important academic research.”

Lewis Gibbs, Music Hub Lead for Deon and Torbay said: “After the last 18 months or so, when we have all spent so much time in isolation, we are delighted to be working with BSO Associate Musician Hugh Nankivelle on this exciting initiative that demonstrates how we can connect different generations through the power of music.”

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