Children and residents from 3 schools and care homes in B&NES have been taking part in a new intergenerational project run by the charity Alive, aiming to bring the generations together through gardening – thanks to funding from St John’s Foundation.
The children have been visiting the residents fortnightly in their care homes and taking part in activities ranging from making fat balls, planting beans and other vegetables to make a wildlife garden. The children and residents have been able to watch their produce grow and have even begun harvesting and tasting their radishes, lettuce and broad beans.
While the plants have been blossoming so have the relationships.
Having the children here brings life into everything, it’s great. It’s lovely to see them making things and then feeding the birds. We’ve been teaching them about the plants and the birds so they know what to look for”, said one participant from Cleeve Court.
Raine Cleverly, Manager of Manor Farm Residential Home in Radstock, has seen the children have a real positive impact on the residents “It has opened up discussions, brought lots of laughter and has made them feel part of the local community. Residents have loved every minute of it. The laughter has been a real tonic, the children interact and chatter away to the residents like they have always known them. They help them move things and do certain tasks. It is truly beautiful to watch”.
Kirsty Barnett, from Longvernal Primary School, agrees that the growing friendships need to be nurtured, “We have developed links with Manor Farm which we are going to build on in the future as we can see what an amazing impact this project has had on the children and the residents”.
The project has been funded by St John’s Foundation and has been set up and developed by local charity Alive. Isobel Jones, Business Development Manager from Alive, said “We’ve run intergenerational projects for 5 years, mainly using the creative arts to bring the old and young together. We know how gardening and connecting with nature is so good for everyone’s health – no matter what age – so it made perfect sense to use gardening as the bridge between the generations.
Funding from St John’s Foundation has enabled us to pilot this and the results have been overwhelming. We really have seen friendships blossom and children and older people enjoying each other’s company whilst learning so much and connecting with nature. What is so positive is the relationships between the schools and homes have put down roots and they will continue to grow and carry on beyond the life of the project.
Raine from Manor Park agrees, “It has been a wonderful experience that we don’t want to end, we are hoping to continue to have contact with the school on an ongoing basis”.