An intergenerational group has been launched in a retirement home to combat social isolation.
The national charity The Together Project, which aims to reduce loneliness, operates its “Songs & Smiles” music groups across the country and announced its latest at Cherwell Court retirement home in Heywood.
The hour-long sessions feature song, dance, percussion, as well as bubble and teaspoon games, with the aim of building relationships between children under four, their parents and residents over aged.
The Together Project CEO Louise Goulden, who launched the initiative in 2017, said groups were a great way for people to mingle with other people they wouldn’t normally come into contact with.
“All three age groups benefit,” said Louise
“Young children, if they don’t have older people in their life, they are missing out on so much life experience and wisdom. If they’re exposed to different experiences, it creates a really positive foundation as they get older.
“For older people there is a lot of loneliness and social isolation and many people can feel cut off from society, so it can be a source of real happiness and have a positive impact on their mental health.”
Louise said the groups had also helped parents who suffered from postpartum depression or other maternal mental health issues.
She said: “They found the groups to be a real lifeline for them because it’s a supportive and welcoming atmosphere, there is no judgment.
“It’s about bringing people together on an equal footing.
“So they found they were something that made them feel more equipped to take on their challenge, which is amazing to hear. “
Louise said she came up with the idea for music groups after seeing the impact her newborn son had on bonding with people, especially the elderly.
She added that some of the children call the residents of the nursing homes their “grandmothers and grandfathers” and this child, whenever she sees elderly people point at them and says “friend.”
“Everyone benefits from being involved,” said Louise.
“Parents know that they are doing something really important to help reduce the social isolation of seniors while still being a great fun activity.
“These are expert-led sessions, it’s a free activity so come on, participate, have fun and know that you are making a real difference in people’s lives.”
Sessions at Cherwell Court take place on Mondays at 9:30 a.m. for 10 weeks starting January 10. For more information visit: www.thetogetherproject.co.uk/songs-and-smiles