Three residents at the state-of-the-art Belong Care village in Chester, which incorporates the region’s first fully integrated nursery within a care setting, have been named ‘Intergenerational Champions’ by national charity Ready Generations for advocating the benefits of connections between younger and older people.
Following the village’s opening last year, some of the first residents to move into the village are reporting how the pioneering project has enriched their lives and given them new purpose and meaning. In response, Ready Generations has recognised them as ambassadors for the mutual advantages of connections across generations.
Ready Generations founder, Sue Egersdorff, explains: “Intergenerational Champions are people who advocate for multi-generational experiences, particularly those whose lives have been enhanced personally.”
Designed to research the positive effects that multi-generational relationships can have on the health, well-being and learning of young and old alike, the Nursery in Belong is situated at the heart of the care village. It provides a range of indoor and outdoor shared spaces for residents, nursery children and the wider community.
Belong Chester apartment tenants Alan and his wife Diana, who lives with dementia, both received the accolade. Together they visit the nursery most days, often taking their pet budgie. Alan reports that the nursery has had a transformative effect on their well-being. “It has brought the joy back into our lives”, he says. “Having the nursery children around reminds me of what it was like when our children were young.”
The other recipient of the Intergenerational Champion title, Bill, who lives in a household at Belong Chester, helps the children at lunchtimes and has formed firm friendships with a number of them, who enjoy him singing nursery rhymes.
In recognition of the difference the nursery children have made to Bill’s life, he recently gifted a book to the nursery’s library called ‘People Need People’, by poet Benjamin Zephaniah, about the importance of belonging and connecting with others. The book was specially selected by Bill’s daughter Susan as she has seen the role that the nursery has played in him settling into his new home at Belong Chester.
Commenting on the impact for both children and residents, Sue said: “It’s very encouraging that we are already seeing significant benefits so soon after opening. Our older friends have more time to spend interacting with children, so they are developing their language skills faster and gaining in confidence as a result. Residents say that they love having the children around. It brings vibrancy and joy to the village, as well as contributing to a sense of community. We enjoy each others company and caring for one another.”