In Funding Stories, Strengthening community cohesion

Project: Re-generate
Grant: £8,346.13
Fund: Prevention Matters

Since receiving their grant, Aylesbury Youth Action have engaged with and recruited 69 young people to volunteer on their Re-generate project, giving them training on issues the older people face daily, communication, listening skills, dementia awareness, and safeguarding. They have continued to work with them to plan and deliver activities with older people.

The volunteers worked with 138 older people in 15 different groups and settings; including visiting daytime groups, independent living schemes, and local events, as well as organising social gatherings, outings and social action projects in which the older people could participate.

Groups, schemes and events that they visited to run activities:

Churchill Court, Methodist Day Group, Queens Park Arts Centre Groups and Events, Conway Close, Shaftesbury, Thistle Court, Abbeyfield in Wendover, Winslow Big Society Events, and Taskers Row in Eddlesborough.

Activities delivered at these groups included board games, Wii sports, quizzes, conversations, reminiscence, dressing up, arts and crafts, computer skills and gardening. Additional events and activities included a Christmas Party and Christmas Shopping trip, Coffee Mornings, and taking guests to a 45th Anniversary Gala Dinner.

Additionally, the group worked with the older people and young volunteers to organise two different social action projects – firstly some community gardening, which took place at both Conway Close in Aylesbury and Taskers Row in Eddlesborough. Secondly some painting and decorating leading to the creation of a new mural at Queens Park Arts Centre. Some of the young people also worked together to create a film showcasing the benefits of their volunteering with older people in terms of developing leadership skills, communication and team work.

Making a difference in the community

This grant helped the older people with reassurance that they have a sense of choice and decision making in what they do, and a level of control over their lives at an age when many choices are being gradually taken away. A quote from a participant:

“I felt I could join in whatever I wanted to…”

They have grown in confidence in trying new things and developed a more active lifestyle – improving both their physical and mental wellbeing:

“I have been more active, joining in the sessions”

They have felt valued and engaged in their community

“I have felt more a part of the community”

… and developed meaningful relationships with the younger generation, and have enjoyed spending time with the young volunteers:

“My favourite thing has been the young people simply visiting and talking with us”

Not only did the older people benefit from these projects but the young volunteers also gained a lot from the experience. With the experience, they learned about how to support older people in aging well by learning first-hand about the issues facing older people and their daily experiences. The young people’s awareness and their understanding of their wider community has grown, as well as their skills in working with older people, and, of course, their ability to empathise with people different from themselves.