Bridging generations through music
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Bridging generations through music

Autumn 2023
Young people and leaders from 53rd Manchester recently got involved with a new pilot project which saw intergenerational activities taking place in a local care home.

In conjunction with the Youth United Foundation and Intergenerational Music Making, young people from the Company were invited to a care home in Salford to engage with residents through the use of music.

The goal of the six-week pilot project was to improve the wellbeing of both the young people and the care home residents taking part with intergenerational activities proven to be a good way to reduce loneliness and social isolation. For the young people in was also hoped it would increase their sense of citizenship, develop respect and empathy for older people in their community.

It brings people to life, especially people who might be withdrawn. We have had two residents, who never really want to join in sessions, interacting and having fun with the kids – it’s amazing.”

Lesley Moore, Activity Co-ordinator at the care home involved

The weekly visits to the care home worked really well with, both generations enjoyed taking part in the music making activities which combined both sound and movement.

As well as taking part in these activities, young people from the Company were also supported through creative training provided by Intergenerational Music Making which helped them explore their understanding of what ‘intergenerational’ means. From asking questions around what a care home is and why people are in them, to understanding what the challenges are for care homes today, the training encouraged them to consider the wider community and the need for mixing across generations.

Intergenerational Music Making

IMM is a national not-for-profit organisation. It delivers programmes, training, campaigning and research to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the old and the young in communities across the UK, through the power of music.

The other partner of the project was Youth United Foundation. The organisation works with 1.5 million young people aged 4-24 to ensure young people, regardless of background or location, have the opportunity to become a member of a uniformed youth group. This helps them to gain skills and experiences, overcome barriers and be the best they can be.

Not only has the activity benefited both generations, it’s also allowed the Company to build new relationships within the local area, ultimately encouraging young people to give back to their local community.

Following on from the success of the six-week pilot project, the leaders at 53rd Manchester are currently exploring what the future of this new-found community relationship looks like. From BBQs and picnics, to games nights, the Company will be working closely with the care home to ensure the intergenerational activity remains an integral part in the group’s programme.

What 53rd Manchester said about their day…

I love listening to music, either on my own or with my mum and sister, so it was nice to be able to listen to music with new people. The music helped us get to know the older people and it settled everyone’s nerves. The older songs were different to what I usually listen to, so I wanted to learn more of the words so I could sing with the residents as they were singing along.”

Serayah, aged nine

I was nervous at first, but when the activities started it was really fun. My favourite part
of the project has been meeting the older people. Some of them hadn’t seen anyone outside of the care home for a long time,
so it was nice to be able to become their friends. They were all really excited to see us, so much so that there were happy tears and that made me want to cry happy tears!

Max, aged nine

In the first week the children and young people were really nervous and apprehensive to come in. By week two, they were running in! They’ve made relationships; you can see the confidence shine through, the residents are really excited to see them, and the kids are excited to take the lead. You see the development of how they’ve appreciated the different needs of older people and made sure everyone’s included.”

Natalie Whipday, Leader

What next?

  • Could your Company explore opportunities to run intergenerational activities together with a local care home?
  • If not, could you work with existing groups within your Church?
  • If face-to-face activities are not possible, could you work together in other ways by, for example, creating care packages or writing to those who might be on their own and lonely?