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Intergenerational Week: From ‘Nans with Cans’ street artists to nursery rhymes – how Royal Star & Garter helps keep their residents young

A charity is marking Intergenerational Week by highlighting the many ways its residents engage with younger people.

 

Royal Star & Garter regularly arranges for residents at its three Homes to connect and interact with younger members of their communities. This can range from nursery school visits to the Homes, to working with street and graffiti artists.

 

Royal Star & Garter provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, from Homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe. The charity has also launched new services to reach out into the community.

 

Intergenerational Week runs from 25-30 April, and aims to bridge the generational gap.

 

Promoting intergenerational contacts with residents from Royal Star & Garter is part of the holistic care provided by the charity. Research has shown it improves mental health and boosts wellbeing in older people, reducing feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. It also improves physical health and cognitive function, and can tackle ageism by helping build stronger communities and breaking down barriers.

 

It is the job of each Home’s Wellbeing Teams to organise all events and outings for residents, including intergenerational activities.

 

Residents at the charity’s Home in Solihull teamed up with artistic brothers Alexander and Kiran, known as Art From A&K, to bring to life a dreary tunnel leading to the nearby Armed Forces Community Garden, earning themselves the nickname ‘Nans with Cans’. Art From A&K came with their team to the Home to work on designs, with residents creating their own poppies before they took up spray cans to add their own personal poppy to the public art installation, entitled Poppy Path, ahead of the 2023 Armed Forces Day.

 

Alexander explained: “Through our on-going Grandbabs project, we take young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from across Birmingham into care homes to interact with residents through art. The reception has been fantastic, by creating intergenerational discourse, both generations can really learn from each other.”

 

At the Surbiton Home, pupils from nearby Southborough High School have been regular visitors as they work towards their Young Leaders Award. The visits, which will continue up to June, sees pupils singing with residents in a choir, helping arrange activities, and joining them in the garden when the weather allows for it. Dan Edwards, Senior Assistant Head Teacher at the school, said: “It has been a real pleasure to see our young students build relationships with the residents week-on-week. At a time when so much negativity surrounds the youth of today, it is genuinely heartwarming to see our students engage and build such caring relationships with the residents at Royal Star & Garter.”

 

Royal Star & Garter veterans in High Wycombe enjoy meeting with youngsters from nearby schools. They were guests at Little Kingshill Combined School when pupils there put on a special performance of a play. And shortly before Christmas, children from Godstowe School came to the Home to perform a festive concert. Nearby RAF High Wycombe has also built up a close friendship with the Home, with personnel regularly visiting and spending time with residents.

 

As well as activities and events organised by the Homes’ Wellbeing Teams, the charity regularly welcomes young relatives through its doors, when they come to visit their grandparents or great-grandparents.

 

Shirley Hall, Director of Care & Wellbeing at Royal Star & Garter, said: “Intergenerational activities play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of life for our residents by promoting social interaction, mental stimulation, wellbeing and a sense of community. The fact that they also bring benefits to the younger generation means they are a double bonus. I’m delighted that these interactions take place throughout the year and I’m proud that we’re using them to celebrate Intergenerational Week”.

 

Royal Star & Garter is welcoming new residents to its three Homes. For more information on this, the new services it is running, or to work for the charity, go to www.starandgarter.org

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