"By communicating with children, our elderly tenants have felt less isolated and managed to do things they would not normally do."
Following innovative work in liaising, communication and collaboration between children and older people at several locations in recent years, the housing association is keen to emphasise the main purpose of the work - to improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness in the lives of elderly people living in rural communities
The Connecting the Generations - Celebrating and Learning conference organised by Bangor University, is a collaboration between Grŵp Cynefin, Gwynedd Council and CADR, the ageing research centre and dementia. The aim of the day will be to share research, good practice and celebrate successes within the field.
Guest speaker will be expert, Stephen Burke, who established ‘United for all ages’ almost ten years ago to tackle major social and economic problems such as loneliness and education, care and housing. He specialises in intergenerational transition and has influenced and stimulated a number of successful campaigns in the childcare and older people's sectors.
Grŵp Cynefin has worked on a number of intergenerational schemes across north Wales. In one Gwynedd scheme it was arranged for primary aged children, to visit the residents of Grŵp Cynefin's extra care scheme in order to take part in various activities such as art and craft work, singing and reading.
Awel y Coleg, Bala has been one of those locations where pupils between the ages of four and seven joined older tenants in their 70s, 80s and 90s on numerous occasions to enjoy singing music together. In one particular project, Grŵp Cynefin also worked with professional musicians from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias.
After the sessions, one tenant in her eighties, Helen Margaret Roberts from Bala, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, as it unites two joys of my life - singing and spending time with children. It has been a breath of fresh air to sing with the children, and has bought very fond memories of my time teaching primary school children.”
Grŵp Cynefin's annual older people's day last year saw their campaign to improve the wellbeing and social awareness of its tenants come to fruition, by inviting pupils from Ysgol Dewi Sant, Rhyl to the older residents event to teach and enjoy traditional Welsh folk dancing.
Similar work has also taken place at Llys Awelon, Ruthin with visits from Ysgol Pen Barras, Ruthin school pupils.
The event has been led by Bangor University lecturer Dr Catrin Hedd Jones, and research collected in Day Care setting across Wales following the ‘Hen Blant Bach and the Toddlers that took on dementia’ programme will be shared. Dr Jones said: “The event will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the good work out there.
“We will be talking about the results and learnings from the intergenerational research carried out by Bangor University and international studies.”
Grŵp Cynefin's community enterprise manager, Mair Edwards said: “We were aware of the evidence that intergenerational work is improving people's wellbeing, and we were keen to put this into practice.
“By communicating with children, our elderly tenants have felt less isolated and managed to do things they would not normally do.”
Shan Lloyd Williams, Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, said: “Our 'more than housing' principle highlight these specific projects - we want our residents to live more fulfilled lives and these schemes have helped tenants achieve that goal.
“Our hope is to share good practice with delegates, learn more about research within the field and see how we can continue to work together to put the health and wellbeing of our residents first.”
Grŵp Cynefin manages around 4,800 homes across north and mid Wales. The event takes place on Thursday, 11 April at Reichel Hall, Bangor University.
For more information about Grŵp Cynefin's work, visit www.grwpcynefin.org, or call 0300 111 2122.