Loneliness and isolation in the UK doesn’t just affect the ageing population. According to the Office for National Statistics, 1 in 10 children also experience loneliness. Kara’s work as an artist and tutor in her local community helped her to discover that inter-generational interactions and creativity can help the well-being of both children and older people. “Probably from my own isolation and from seeing that in my grandparents, I knew I wanted to help people to feel less alone,” Kara reflects.
Kara set up Creative Generations to bring her idea to life, using her skills and passion for all things creative. The social enterprise offers art workshops for children and the older community to help them to see past their differences, connect through story-telling and creativity, and feel more valued in their communities as a result.
Kara was taking part in the Thurrock Social Entrepreneurship Programme when she decided to present her idea by pitching at Thurrock Soup, which gives local people an opportunity to win some start-up money. The idea of Creative Generations caught everyone’s imagination and Kara won the cash on the evening and went on to successfully be awarded a grant from the UnLtd fund.
Sheltered housing residents and school children in Thurrock have been taking part in intergenerational workshops with Creative Generations to boost their connections within the community. The intergenerational scheme was initially piloted in June 2019 with students from Thameside Primary School and residents at Frederick Andrews Court in Grays. Since then, Corringham’s Bellmaine Avenue Sheltered Housing residents and children from Corringham Primary School have also benefited from the workshops.
Residents at Vigerons Way Sheltered Housing complex, Grays, have spent an hour each week for the past month with students from Herringham Primary Academy working together and exploring a range of topics using art techniques such as drawing and collages. At the end of each session, the children and residents present what they have made and learnt to the rest of the class.
So far, two groups of school children at Herringham Primary Academy have benefited from the schemes at Vigerons Way. A number of children who took part in the workshops before Christmas recently visited residents with their parents to enjoy a special afternoon tea.
Cllr Barry Johnson, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “It’s fantastic to see older and younger members of our community being creative together and discovering what they have in common. The techniques used in these workshops not only make outstanding artwork, but helps the children in their learning and storytelling.
“The afternoon tea was another lovely idea and really highlighted to the parents the great work that the children and sheltered housing residents have been doing together, as well as see the connections formed.”
Margaret Cullwick, a resident at Vigerons Way Sheltered Housing, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the sessions with the little ones and it’s been really good fun. The children always ask lots of questions, particularly about the differences between when we were at school compared to their school life today.”
Nine-year-old Maddie Davis from Herringham Primary Academy, added: “The best part of the week was leaving school to go see Betty and draw together.”
Kara Thompson, artist and tutor at Creative Generations, said: “Giving the children and older adults this unique space to talk and learn together has been incredibly successful. We see their confidence and skills grow with every workshop, plus across the ages they build a sense of connection and appreciation with their local community. You only have to hear the excitable chatter at the workshops to understand that bringing these age groups together is of huge value to both children and older adults.”