Schools encouraged to become Care Home Friends with 10-week programme of resources

Schools are being encouraged to become Care Home Friends in a new scheme to bring together children and older people living in care homes.

‘Become a Care Home Friend’ is a 10-week challenge that offers a programme of free activities for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3, to foster understanding about older generations, raise awareness of care homes and build community links.

The challenge has been created by Care Home Friends and Neighbours (Care Home FaNs): Intergenerational Linking – England’s biggest intergenerational project connecting young people with older people living in care homes. The project is a partnership from organisations My Home Life England and The Linking Network, who are now reaching out to get more children involved. The project is funded by Dunhill Medical Trust and the #iwill Fund (a £54 million joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport).

“Intergenerational work can boost children’s self-esteem, broaden their world view and improve empathy and understanding of others,” said Tom Owen, Director of My Home Life England.

“Both children and older people can get so much out of a relationship with each other, but their contact can be very limited. This project helps to build links with care homes – a part of the community schools might not otherwise engage with - and equally helps care homes feel more connected to their local community. We’ve seen so much joy, fun and energy in all our local projects and we hope our Become a Care Home Friend Challenge will spread this even further.”

Aimed at children aged 5-14, the challenge activities have been developed by teachers and are embedded in the National Curriculum. Starting at the beginning of Global Intergenerational Week on Monday 25th April and running for 10 weeks through to Care Home Open Week, worksheets will be issued weekly, offering schools regular activities for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

They include thinking about different generations and the achievements of older people, an introduction to care homes and the people who live and work there, as well as a postcard exchange and making small gifts.

Linda Cowie, Director of The Linking Network, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for more children across England to get involved in social action and make a positive difference in their communities. We give schools information about how to make contact with their local care home and we’ve put together activities that are engaging and fun, supporting children to think more about different generations and create something special for a nearby care home.”

Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking combines My Home Life England’s expertise with older people and care homes with The Linking Network’s expertise with young people and schools and their successful Schools Linking programme. It’s currently creating intergenerational links between schools, youth groups and care homes in 11 areas of England, and this challenge takes things one step further.

Queensmead Primary Academy in Leicester is one of the schools that has been connecting with a local care home. Principal, Liz Latham, said: “Being part of Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking has given our pupils a real sense of connection with the local community, helping them to feel grounded and part of a wider, local, social network - something that during recent times has been particularly lacking. 

“Pupils have been enthusiastic about getting to know our local residential home which has broadened their outlook and made them more reflective of themselves and the generations within their own families. One of the particular highlights was our pupils singing Christmas carols through the windows to older residents at their linked home - the joy on the residents’ faces was a privilege to see - pupils were so proud that the residents joined in and enjoyed the performance.

“It's vital for pupils to feel that they are part of a wider community and this is a great way to connect them in a safe, structured and organised way. We would really encourage more schools to be involved through the ‘Become a Care Home Friend’ challenge.”

Signing up to the Become a Care Home Friend challenge is free. Visit https://myhomelife.org.uk/challenge to register.

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £54 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Dunhill Medical Trust is acting as a match funder for this project and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.

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