A special project encompassing vulnerable young people in care, ex-battery hens and care home residents has been awarded for establishing intergenerational connections in the community online during the pandemic.
Paisley based child and youth care charity, Kibble, has been awarded the Digital Innovation award by Generations Working Together for the HenPower project and has been recognised for continuing the initiative online during lockdown to ensure the relationships made between the groups were not lost.
The project focuses on establishing valuable connections between young people at Kibble and the older generation in community care homes. The young people worked with residents at local Spiers Care Home at weekly face-to-face sessions before the pandemic, which included caring for the ex-battery hens on-site at Kibble’s therapeutic Forest View School in Lochwinnoch, as well as art and music sessions.
However, due to lockdown restrictions, project lead and outdoor activity co-ordinator at Kibble, Rhona Dorrington, instigated the use of technology to make sure the young people and elderly residents could still enjoy time together.
Using tablets and mobile phones, young people at Kibble’s Forest View campus were able to continue joining Spiers’ elderly residents for virtual visits with the hens as well as taking part in clay moulding and rock-painting.
In addition to visiting the hens during their very own ‘flock-down’, aptly named by the children at Kibble, Rhona was also able to extend the animal visiting to the ducks, turkeys and ponies who are all a big part of normal day-to-day life and education at Forest View.
Kibble, supports young people who have faced trauma and adversity, providing therapeutic care and education for those aged 5 – 25. The national charity implemented the HenPower project in its early years residential and educational services at Forest View in 2019 before the pandemic hit.
HenPower is a national project, and the Kibble arm has been funded by The National Lottery Awards for All Scotland. Bringing generations together has proven to be massively beneficial in developing understanding, perspective and stimulating both groups by working together and learning from each other.
As well as the mental wellbeing benefits for all, there has been a noticeable increase in the physical and mental health of the elderly residents, with even one non-verbal resident speaking for the first time in years to express her fondness of one of the young people.
Rhona, said: “The power of the relationships built between the young people and the elderly residents is astounding. It is about establishing a bond with each other based on love and care, about being seen, and knowing that they are not forgotten.
“Connections to family members and daily routines were severely reduced for both groups this year due to lockdown, so it was crucial that we created some consistency for our young people and for the Spiers residents. HenPower is something they both look forward to so much. It’s a bit of fun while giving them experiences and connections they otherwise might not have had.”
Photo: Rhona with the chickens
Alison Ravandi, Home Manager at Spiers Care Home, said: “Interacting with the young people from Kibble has been a form of therapy for our residents, particularly while lockdown restrictions meant we could not welcome visitors or take residents out on their usual trips.
“The youngsters have worked hard and been very welcoming. Our ladies and gents have loved getting to know the kids, learning about their project and always looked forward to the next activity. The project certainly deserves the recognition it is receiving, well done to all involved.”
The level of intergenerational work completed last year was reduced due to the pandemic. However, Generations Working Together, a nationally recognised centre of excellence, has made innovation a key objective for its practices going forward, embedding and celebrating alternative approaches to intergenerational work through technology and innovation.