Age UK Canterbury uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our policy. To read more about how we use cookies and how you can control them Read our Privacy Policy Privacy Policy
Skip to content

This project aims to:

  • Reduce isolation and improve well-being in older people, especially those living with dementia, by offering social and creative activities for them.
  • Equip young volunteers with the skills and confidence to support socially engaging interaction with older people during these project sessions
  • Build greater awareness of what people can do to create more dementia-friendly communities, fostering empathy and greater understanding of older people’s needs
  • Offer volunteer experience in working with vulnerable people, and people living with dementia to build confidence, develop valuable social, peer and team-working skills

The project is:

  • Led by AgeUK Canterbury, working in partnership with the Simon Langton Boys’ school (SLBS) working with the Simon Langton Girls’ school (SLGS), supported by Westgate Parks
  • Funded mainly by KCC, through an innovation award from Kent Dementia Action Alliance; It will run through the spring and summer period.
  • Supported by the Simon Langton Girls’ School, as the legacy of their own older people’s project from 2016, ‘Taking Trees’, who are contributing and will help promote the SLBS work, building on their own project learning and experiences.
  • Facilitated by Fay Blair and Nicky Thompson with Catherine Arnell who work on ‘arts and wellbeing’ projects. Nicky is a creative writer, Catherine is an artist/ceramicist and Fay a project manager and evaluator. See about their work here with us here at Age UK Canterbury.
  • Supported by Harriet Ogle, SLBS Deputy Head Girl with SLBS teacher, Sarah Passfield who will co-ordinate and promote the work and SLBS student involvement
  • Supported by Nick Hayes, teacher from SLGS with Year 12 SLGS student, Leeluu King (who took part in Talking Trees) to encourage SLGS Year 9 in this new SLBS project.

Evaluation Summary

The full evaluation summary by Fay Blair can be downloaded here

Postcards from Precious Places was a project that showed the benefits of intergenerational working, creating a community between groups of students from Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar (Year 9) and Simon Langton Boys’ Grammar co-ed 6th form with older people, some of whom live with dementia.

  • The focus on creative writing and crafting activities offered a way of meeting people and having a fun, social afternoon out; doing something a bit different. It was an opportunity to overcome the loneliness and isolation that many older people experience.
  • The project was an ‘eye-opener’ for the young people that changed their life perspective, in realising how simple acts of kindness and patience can make a big positive difference to older people, lifting their mood and contributing to an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
  • The initial ‘Dementia Friends’ sessions delivered by the project team – as awareness-raising and recruitment sessions in school (for 15 students ) – were followed by two student training sessions. These were to prepare a team of (9) committed students to understand the needs of older people and the challenges that those who live with dementia face day-to-day.

Interactive training sessions about dementia and supporting older people.

  • Students also supported the Westgate Parks activity day for the Mayoral launch of the tree trail, designed ‘with older people in mind’, on 21 May 2017, and attended the earlier after-school briefing (9th May). They found it highly enjoyable and rewarding.The general public (over 200 visitors), students and the (25) older people from AgeUK Canterbury and Cranmer House Sheltered Housing Scheme, enjoyed being escorted round the trail with the newly published leaflet. Many joined in the outdoor creative activities led by Pebble Poetry and Espression Arts (hands-on, including clay work) and staged on the terrace of Tower House overlooking the wonderful heritage park’s Westgate Gardens.
  • These practical sessions were sound preparation for the three Age UK Canterbury Saturday ‘afternoon tea’, creative writing and crafting sessions (15th, 22nd, 29th July 2017). Older people came with friends and carers; some on their own, and worked in small groups round tables supported by student volunteers and made friends. 33 people attended on 29th.

The student and participant feedback: learning from the evaluation for the future

  • All the students found the training sessions ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ useful. It extended their knowledge of dementia and helped to build their self confidence in dealing with older people, especially in what to expect and how to best help and what qualities and skills they need for this. They realised the importance of patience, empathy, confidence, speaking loudly and listening skills. Students’ social, dementia ‘caring’ and team skills were developed.
  • The vast majority of participants (90%) enjoyed the sessions, ‘very’ much or ‘excellently’. They remarked on the ‘warmth and ‘friendliness’ and how well people got along together and had fun, achieving things that they didn’t expect they could. They particularly loved poems being read out loud, working with their hands, especially clay, and making their own decorated and laminated postcards, whilst sharing stories and memories.
  • Everyone relished talking, ‘being together’ and welcomed the tea and home-made cakes.
  • At the end of the sessions, the evaluation showed participants felt ‘less isolated’ or lonely.
  • Fixing session times that suit everyone over the summer was a challenge. Many students had exam and job commitments. ‘Word of mouth’ is the best way to get people to take part.

All (100%) the students said they would be interested in similar future projects giving peer support, realising the importance and value of this work. Several older people were motivated to take part in other creative activities as a result of this project. There is scope now to develop poetry and creative writing with crafts as an integrated programme, with the Kent-wide Age UK network for 2018/19 to increase the outreach and impact, galvanising more action for dementia friendly communities.