We can be a vehicle for making something happen, we can be a drive, an energy force, a beam of light. There are opportunities for connection if we have our eyes open. My visit to Westwood Lodge this week demonstrated how an opportunity to connect a lady to her previous profession as a school teacher had opened up a new world of intergenerational wonder for not only this lady but other residents too
As I entered the home one such beam of light guided me in, her name is Chloe. Chloe is the Activities Co-ordinator and, from meeting with her, it was clear that she has a real passion for connecting people to the things that matter. She shared with me the story of a Community Circle that centred around a lovely lady called Alice. Alice had a number of things she wanted to connect to and indeed was already matched with a wonderful volunteer, Fiona. They had been enjoying each other’s company and had formed a real bond. Both Chloe and Community Circles Connector, Cath, knew of Alice’s work history as a teacher, and indeed Alice had talked of how she would like to run a group for children and residents to come together and spend a while in each other’s company.
So, Cath and Chloe reached out to Worsley Mesnes Primary school; the school were keen to collaborate and a date was set for the children to come and visit Alice. On the first visit four tiny sets of feet descended on the setting and they were joined by an equal number of residents. The children happily mingled with those present and questions arose from wonderment and curiosity. One little girl approached Alice (Alice uses an electric wheelchair) and commented that she thought Alice was a robot. Alice found this hilarious and moments such as this, when walls to connection crumble at the wonderment and innocence of a young mind, support relationship building between the generations. Chloe added how the adults demolished those walls further by sharing their knowledge on dominoes with the children. The numerical education was extended to include a game called ‘Hit the Can’ where bean bags are thrown at numbered cans and participants add up the numbers on the fallen cans keeping minds sharp and conversations flowing.
Chloe talked about themed sessions that have taken place and recalled how at Halloween both the home and the school had bought pumpkins which they carved together, followed by a singing session, further uniting voices and hearts. This session really spurred another lady resident, Jeanette, to offer forward an idea. Jeanette did not have children of her own but she too loves the company of the children when they visit. Jeanette suggested a poppy wreath-making group to honour Remembrance Day. Unfortunately, due to bad weather the children could not attend this session but the team still made this group happen and it is clear that the team encourage participation and ownership for ideas.
So, from that initial contact, listening to what matters and driving forward with connections marvellous things can indeed happen. Chloe told of how one lady, Winnie, has taken a real shine to one of the little girls commenting on how lovely she is; others ask about when the children will be back again, and Alice, well, she will tell staff that she must be up and present for when the children visit. Parents have commented on the school’s Facebook page about how the kids can’t wait to return to the home and one parent had said that her daughter had “never stopped talking about it”.
My conclusion is that we must continue to be vehicles for change, to reach out to other generations in our community. We must continue to source and keep beams of light on our teams like Chloe and Cath as they support and nurture those intergenerational connections and encourage them to flourish.