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Pen Pal Programme at The Hawthorns

We like to encourage intergenerational relationships between our residents and the local communities, to improve the learning, sense of purpose and understanding for children about their own ageing and support community inclusion and socialisation for our residents.

Throughout the Hawthorns Group of Independent Living Communities, we have brought the generations together with meaning and purpose for everyone. It can develop children’s confidence in talking with older generations about how life feels for them and leads to a more respectful society coming together to share their life skills.

The Hawthorns Pen Pal Programme children intergenerational school writing

At The Hawthorns Eastbourne, we partnered with one of our local schools, Willingdon Primary, and started a Pen Pal Programme which involved 60 children writing to 20 residents. The children initially introduced themselves and wrote about their families, pets and hobbies, and the residents wrote back about their lives. The Hawthorns Pen Pal Programme fostered positive connections between residents and primary school children by keeping family stories alive and making them feel connected to both the past and to the future. It was great fun and also helped reduce any feelings of isolation or loneliness for those residents that have no close family members.

At The Hawthorns in Clevedon, our residents discovered a great opportunity to share and pass on their knowledge to the younger generations; pupils from the local school visited our residents on a regular basis to spend time just chatting together and sharing experiences. This was so successful that we are now looking into a specific project which will involve the same children presenting their ideas on a current issue. “Plastic Waste and How to Reduce It” will be our first step into the search for a solution to an environmental issue, by learning how to work together for our community and sharing the knowledge and skills of our oldest and youngest generations.

There are many benefits to continue to bridge intergenerational relationships within our local communities and seeing what a positive effect this can have in enriching people’s lives.

Article by Ian Turnbull, Operations Manager, for Welcome Home Issue 9.

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