Elderly are young at heart
Arran Community and Voluntary Service (ACVS) has planted the seeds of a befriending project which will see children and pensioners regularly meeting each other for support and friendship in an effort known as Arran Acorns.
The scheme involving residents of Glen Estate and the pre-school children of Brodick early years centre will begin later this month and be rolled out at the Stronach day care centre in the new year.
The children visited the sheltered housing residents last week to have a sneak preview and to meet their new friends, whom they will visit weekly for interaction and fun activities, including crafts, singing, games and gardening.
Residents are already looking forward to the sessions and thinking ahead, planning a trip out to see the children perform their nativity play in December. These sessions will add to an itinerary of creative activities that the residents themselves plan and organise.
Benefits for children who take part include improved language and skills, confidence in new situations, pa- tience and working with a new age group. These benefits are two-way and include increased physical and social activity, learning through skill sharing, knowledge and experience. Through connection and communication with the wider community, one aim is to decrease loneliness and social isolation.
The idea for the Arran Acorns came from a Channel 4 programme Old people’s home for four-yearolds where pre-school children and care home residents met and both generations shared moments taking part in various activities.
In the programme, some of the residents were rather sceptical and thought it would be a total disaster, but it didn’t take long for the children to change these views. There were notable differences recorded in both the physical and mental health of the residents. One person, who had concerns about mobility and was almost too scared to move out their chair at the start, ultimately took part in the sports day, embracing the encouragement from her new friend.
Funding for the intergenerational project came through the Social Isolation Fund from North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and it is hoped the project will forge stronger links in the community between the groups and sustain greater generational bonds.
Glen Estate residents meet some of the early years children with Bobbi Mulholland, Arran CVS development officer, and Ann Reid, housing co-ordinator.