Community Circles are working with care homes throughout Wigan and Leigh, supporting people to stay connected to what really matters to them.

The purpose of the Circle could be anything that is important to the person; staying connected at church or keeping involved with sport.

For Irene, her favourite thing to do is to reminisce and share stories about her time in the land army, so her Circle is finding ways and opportunities to make this happen for her.

Once a month Irene and her family get together with Julie, the volunteer, to have conversations and share ideas about what they can do that makes a difference.

One of the first things we did was to look on the internet to see if there was anything available about Wigan and the land army.  This led us to the fabulous resources that Beta Net Café had put together, objects, photocopies and a book, collating stories about Wigan during the second world war

These resources were great for supporting conversations and reminiscing with Irene and other people she lives with who had also been in the land army.

Julie, the Circles volunteer, suggested getting in touch with the local school to see if the children would be interested in coming to meet Irene and listen to her stories, so earlier this month we were delighted to welcome children who are part of the school council at St Cuthbert’s to join us for the afternoon.

The children had already done some research about the land army and enjoyed reading this to Irene, while she shared stories of her own experiences.  Lillian, who lives with Irene and was also in the land army joined in to chat with the children.  It was a lovely afternoon of conversation, listening and learning and everyone enjoyed each other’s company.

The fun didn’t stop there and often the spark of an idea from one Circle meeting has ripples that can touch many others.

After the children had chatted with Irene and Lillian, they asked if they could sing some songs from their nativity.  We then moved from the small lounge to the large lounge so that everyone could hear the children.

The lounge came to life as the children sang and shared performances from their nativity, staff and people who live in the care home joined in, finishing with a conga through the lounge.

Some of you may have seen the recent programme on Channel 4 “Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds” about the pre-school children who spent 6 weeks in a care home.  The programme was a delight to watch and not surprising that people’s moods increased as a result of this company.  What surprised me was the positive effects that the children’s company and doing activities together had on people’s mobility and their physical health but it’s not just mental health that improves; moods, mobility and memory were all shown to improve.

This article shares about a nursery which is being run from a care home in London supporting older people to be connected with children and as 89-year-old Fay Garcia says, “Isn’t it fantastic? It’s the highlight of my week,” while bouncing baby Sasha on her knee.

From the success we’ve had from introducing the children from St Cuthbert’s to Irene and the other people she lives with, we are working with Wigan Council to support more schools and care homes develop those relationships.

If you work in a primary school, see how you can connect with your local care home and let us know how you get on


Cath Barton

Community Circles Connector