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Older people’s memories made into film by young students

Four short films were showcased at Saxonwood care home in Battle, East Sussex on Monday 15 May as an intergenerational project called ‘Bringing your stories to life’.

The six-week project, saw students from Claverham Community College visit older people at Saxonwood, to get to know them and produce short digital stories of poignant moments in the care home residents’ lives.

Capturing special moments in social history, the project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has been run by community artists at Everyday Creativity and Sussex Housing & Care, a not-for-profit provider of housing and care for older people.

The event celebrated the production of the films and welcomed care home residents, their families, students and their parents and teaching staff, as well as Professor Vic Rayner OBE Chief Executive of the National Care Forum and Battle Mayor Councillor Vikki Cook.  

“I feel happy and younger!”

Joan, 98 was partnered with Eli, 13, and said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute with Eli and we have quite a bit in common and he’s very interesting to talk to. I’ve made him laugh and the project has made me feel happy and younger! The students are the future generation and I’ve enjoyed telling them about my life.”

The project has positively impacted on the young people’s social skills. Lia from Claverham shares the difference it’s made to her: “It’s important to speak to people who have seen the word completely differently to us because it’s changed so much and you get a different outlook on life. I think I should get to know my grandparents better and pay more attention to the stories they tell me because they are very interesting.”

Beautiful relationships

Maxine, mother of a student felt moved by the films: “My son has been so enthusiastic about the project and has been excited to be involved. It’s been emotional watching the films and the beautiful relationship between Joan and Eli is very natural. There is so much older people can contribute and younger people can learn, and this project has been a great experience.”

Vic Rayner shared her reaction after watching the digital stories: “How fantastic it’s been to see a celebration of people’s lives and new friendships. It’s been a real privilege to be part of this celebration. It is very important to hear the voices of people in care and support and to put them at the front and centre. The stories were inspirational and the connection between young and older friends were heart-warming and give us great hope for the future.”

Personal stories

Artists from Everyday Creativity led the project and their experience working with local communities brought understanding and a sensitive approach to the sessions. Marisa, artist, is pleased with the outcome: “It’s been wonderful to see the students’ confidence blossom each week as they shared stories and built relationships. It has been a privilege to work with everyone to create such beautiful, personal digital stories. We’re delighted to have partnered with Sussex Housing & Care to provide a platform for these digital stories to be shared.”

The event was supported by Claverham Community College Principle, Paul Swatton who thought the films were “poignant, emotional and humbling” and said: “It’s been an amazing partnership between our students and residents at Saxonwood and the films make you reflect on what people have gone through. It’s been a great experience for our students and we look forward to collaborating again in the future.”

A marvellous initiative

Mayor of Battle, Councillor Vikki Cook was impressed by the project: “The films stir memories of the older generations, some of which are quite hidden, especially war time experiences. There have been no barriers in this project and young and old have openly talked and have gained respect for each other. It’s brought the Battle community together and is a marvellous initiative.”

Tracy Evans, Chief Executive of Sussex Housing & Care thanked everyone for their support and said: “This project has been very special to us. We’ve seen connections develop between young and old and the visits have brought smiles, laughter and a real buzz around the care home. We’re pleased to have captured our residents’ important memories, and share these with friends, families, and the wider world – it’s a moment in history that won’t be forgotten! We look forward to continuing the relationship with the school and welcome young people to volunteer or enjoy work experience in our care home.”

The films

Here are the wonderful films produced by the Bringing our stories to life project in Battle:

“Where’s your light?” Joan’s story

“22483785” Harold’s story

“They have babies in Toronto as well!” Gail’s story

“A feather in our cap” Ann’s story

Here is a film about the project, including how the films were created and the impact the intergenerational workshops have had on the care home residents and the students:

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