Project Post connected a group of young people from Garston Adventure Playground with a group of over 50’s from The Woodcutters Social club also located in Garston. The project ran for 12 weeks and concluded with a festive sharing event held in the Woodcutters Social Club.
The project began in the format of two workshops delivered each week on the same theme delivered to the separate groups. The format worked for the first few weeks however participation of the elderly group reduced until I had to find a new format in order for the project to continue. The young people were so invested in their pen pal I had to find a way to continue the correspondence so I gained permission to obtain the elderly adults addresses in order to do weekly home visits as an alternative. Carrying out home visits eliminated the obstacle of travel or mobility problems and allowed them to tell me what time and day suited their weekly plans and commitments.
Each week focused on a different theme and form of written communication
Week 1 “Introduction to Project Post”- Note
Week 2 “All about me” – Letter
Week 3 “Our favourite holiday” – Postcard
Week 4 “An important young/elderly person in my life” – Paper aeroplane
Week 5 “Careers/When I grow up” – Illustrated letter
Week 6 “A day in the life”- Schedule list
Week 7 “Come dine with me”- Card
Week 8 “Personal package”- Padded Envelope
Week 9 “Festive sharing event” – Woodcutters Social Club
- Young people created a piece of written correspondence weekly.
- Young people gained an understanding of older peoples lives.
- Young people reduced levels of social isolation for elderly adults.
- Elderly adults reduced levels of loneliness and social isolation for young people.
- 17 Writing packs were distributed.
- 85 Pieces of post exchanged throughout the duration of the project.
“The kids today have everything and nothing all at the same time, they need us to teach them how to have fun when you have nothing” – Elderly participant
“My favourite memory from the project was getting all of the lovely gifts and notes from the children, it was all really special” – Elderly participant
“It was a good surprise in January when I got a letter through the door from my pen pal, I felt like we bonded really well. I think we should meet up again but in summer when everyone is feeling better and the weather is nicer.” – Young participant
“I have loved doing this project. I have discovered so many things about elderly people and have enjoyed hearing stories about them.” – Young participant
“Fantastic project my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed every step of the way it was wonderful to be able to meet her pen pal and we have arranged to carry on and meet the rest of the family!! She has talked none stop about what she has done.” – Parent of participant
All of the elderly participants answered a series of questions relating to their experience of Project Post.
The questions were answered on a scale between one and five.
1=Not at all
5=A large amount
The Sharing Event
The Sharing event took place on the 20th of December and invited both participant groups and their friends and family to meet one another for the first time and to enjoy some food, drink and entertainment. Unfortunately for the young people only a couple of the older participants attended as a direct result of poor health and or problems with their mobility. However the young people and their parents and their friends still really enjoyed the event and fussed over the adult pen pals that did attend showering them with gifts and chatting with them at length. One of the young people sang for everyone, we had a ceremonial cutting of the cake and the young people involved received selection boxes from local councillor Leo Tootle. Councillor Tootle also posted on Facebook about his experience of the event.
“A very satisfactory evening here. Great inter-generational work going on between young people from Garston Venny and older residents in the local community. Also, a great pleasure to hand out selection boxes to some of the younger members of the community that are already endeavouring to make a huge difference and go the extra mile!” – Leon Tootle
Is one of our regular young volunteers; they have a flair for the arts and have excelled in their academic work. However, they struggle socially relating better to younger children and finds it challenging to build relationships with young people their own age. they also experienced an increase in their social anxiety in recent months. When they found out about the project they were unsure if they would be able to take part due to their heavy workload at sixth form however I adjusted the sessions to fit around them and as a result, they took part every week. The young person’s enthusiasm grew as the project progressed and they were delighted to discover that they had a lot in common with their pen pal. The young person loved the creative aspect but also expressed a number of times how they believed that written communication was so much more powerful than digital forms. The project has definitely boosted the confidence of the young person and helps them to feel more relaxed around people that they do not know, as there is now the possibility that a stranger, could soon be a friend.
I met E a couple of weeks into the project as they were related to one of the other participants, they had limited mobility as they were recovering from a recent fall. E very rarely got out and about and relied on their television for entertainment and company. When I visited E they enjoyed reminiscing with a cuppa and a cake, they shared stories from the past and even got photos out to show me all of their family. E has taken pleasure from learning about the young people and it has reassured them that they are not all threatening. When asked about the effect the project had on them as an individual they simply replied, “it just breaks up the loneliness and starts a conversation”.