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Bridging the generation gap with a spot of lunch
BLACKBIRD Leys residents are bridging the generation gap with a new initiative at Orchard Meadow Primary School.
Elderly volunteers, including residents at the nearby Longlands care home, will come in every week to have lunch with children and take part in activities.
Run by charity Full Circle, the scheme aims to help bolster the confidence for both the pupils and the volunteers.
Another Blackbird Leys school, Pegasus Primary School in Field Avenue, has been running a similar scheme since March.
The school’s project coordinator and learning assistant Rachel Walding said: “We have five older people who come in from the local community and they have lunch with the same six children.
“We all have lunch together and then we do some activities, like play games or sing or draw.
“They absolutely love it and the children love to come along.
“A big part of it is feeling special; when they come in the adults are all there waiting for them and are obviously pleased to see them.
“They get some real quality one-to-one time and the volunteers remember what they told them last week and ask about it the next week.”
Full Circle’s manager Rebekah Sammut said: “It builds understanding and respect across the generations.
“Quite often families are fragmented so children often don’t have a grandparent nearby. Likewise it’s very easy for older people to become isolated and combating that is a way to help that generation.
“It’s a way for them to pass on their life skills and legacy.”
She said: “It brings together the whole community as well, as volunteers tend to be people from within the local area.”
The Orchard Meadow Primary School’s scheme started last week and will continue into the next academic year.
Luciano Thomas, the family liaison coordinator for Longlands care home, in Balfour Road, said the residents were excited about the scheme.
He said: “We are constantly looking for ways to engage with the community around us. This provides both residents and school children with the opportunity to make a new friend.”
Rita Declerck, 68, is a volunteer at the Pegesus Primary School scheme. She said: “I just love children. It’s just amazing to see them coming out of themselves, some of them were so unconfident at the beginning. It’s just lovely to see them blossoming.”
Carol Gibbons, 69, added: “I love the idea of old and young coming together and mixing. We seem to learn from each other.”
The Blackbird Leys resident said: “It’s great that Orchard Meadow is doing this too. Where can you go wrong? It’s a special thing.”
Every week the volunteers have lunch with nine-year-old Yasmin Ahmad. She said: “I have fun with all of the other people and it makes me really happy when I’m around my new friends.”
Mike Pereira, eight, added: “I like the lunches and the old people because they are really kind and like to talk with us.”