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Intergenerational work has been taking place on the Isle of Lewis over the past few months as part of a nationwide scheme.

Generations Working Together, in partnership with the Western Isles Volunteer Centre visited sites across Lewis this September (27 and 28) who are bringing people together from different generations.

Each organisation visited had different ideas about how to bring people together, but intergenerational contact was at the core of them all.

Bella Kerr, Intergenerational Development Officer for Generations Working Together, said “What an inspiring visit to Lewis and Generations Working Together are looking forward to coming back next year to meet with the young people, share some activities and hear what they have been involved with people from another generation."

Bellann O'Brien, Western Isles Volunteer Centre Lewis and Volunteer Intergenerational Connector for Generations Working Together, assisted Bella Kerr to make the connections and visits with school teachers and other organisations.

Local visits included the The Leanne Fund which provides a range of unique support services to individuals affected by Cystic Fibrosis and their families. They have some young people who come in and learn assist them from the Duke of Edinburgh award through the volunteer centre. This improves the young people’s knowledge of CF and raises awareness of the fund.

The second visit was to Tong Primary School. Women from a local craft group started visiting the school last Easter and made bunting with the children which is displayed in the community hall. From August this year, the women have been teaching valuable knitting and sewing skills, bringing younger and older people together. Some of the conversations included Christmas and what it was like when the older people were younger, compared to now.

The third visit was to a new, recently opened care home, Taigh Shìphoirt (Seaforth House) where staff and residents are settling in nicely. It is full of beautifully framed art work drawn by young people from local schools. With strong connections in the local community and a great environment to do intergenerational work – they have a large garden area with a polytunnel and lots of space to grow plants, vegetables and wild flowers – there is lots of potential for intergenerational work to grow. School visits and connects are slowly taking shape.

At Sgoil an Rubha, because of school strikes, the children were not in class which gave intergenerational workers the opportunity to have a good discussion with all the teachers.

"We heard about their successful intergeneratonal coffee mornings that take place along with big breakfasts and the different ages that organise and take part.

"We discussed their plans for possible projects especially on the environment. Transport has been a barrier due to the distance from where some older people in the community meet. Some of the teachers had completed Generations Working Together’s training which they found informative."

Stornoway Primary school who have been involved in intergenerational connections over the years and has good connections with The Failte Centre in Stornoway. A young volunteer for the centre who served lunches while attending with their father in the holidays and is a pupil at the school, encouraged a whole class visit once a month for a whole year. "Conversations and activities included toys of the past, holidays, talking about football and many other creative activities involving older and younger generations. The teachers commented that it was their favourite part of the year and that everyone loves intergenerational connections, with greeat relationship formed throughout the year long visits.

"Activities have spilled into the classroom with one example of a session on favourite meals led to a maths class with graphs created to show and share the results with everyone. Even the school’s cleaner is over 80 years old.

"The school also has connections with nearby Trust Housing. During Covid, children sang Gaelic songs and Highland danced outside the windows, played noughts and crosses on the windows and had a piper come and pipe. The residents would stand at their windows and join in the singing; sometimes shouting requests for Gaelic songs!

Their final visit was to Solas Day Centre to meet Catherine MacRitchie to discuss a new centre and future plans for intergenerational work and connections. Pre-Covid, the centre had done some work with a nursery school class and are looking to arrange more activities in the coming months.

Generations Working Together is the nationally recognised centre of excellence supporting the development and integration of intergenerational work across Scotland.