How young people are stopping loneliness in our care homes

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed which helps create friendships betwe

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed pictured with care home residents Maurice Hovells and Audrey Adcock from badgers Wood Care Home. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Loneliness affects a lot of elderly people in our community. A Norfolk-based charity is using friendships with schoolchildren to ease its impact. Sophie Skyring reports.

Ruby Jennings from Taverham is 10 years old and attends Drayton Junior School.

She is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed, which helps form intergenerational friendships between children and care home residents.

“It makes you feel so special, and makes a difference in your life and the residents' lives,” she said. 

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed which helps create friendships betwe

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Ruby attended a cake making session at Badgers Wood care home, in Drayton, two years ago during the summer holidays and then continued to attend the events there, and started to visit the care home after school. 


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Securing the maximum amount of funding from the Alec Dickson Trust, Ruby has been able to run activities allowing for even more intergenerational friendships to be formed.

Ruby Jennings Full Funding Alec Dickson Trust

Ruby Jennings, 10, received the maximum amount of funding from the Alec Dickson Trust. - Credit: Becki Jennings

Ruby said: "My favourite activities have been a tea party which I did with my class for intergenerational friendships and we also did bag making which was inspired by William Morris."

Ruby Jennings tea party shopping

Ruby Jennings went shopping before school to buy everything for the intergenerational tea party. - Credit: Becki Jennings

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She added: "I’ve got some money left so I might spend that on another cupcake making activity in the summer holidays.’ 

Claire Chilvers, health and social care coordinator at Badgers Wood, said: “Ruby’s activities make such a huge impact on our residents' lives.”

She added: “It is so rewarding as a care provider to see their faces light up, and to see the connection between the children and the residents.” 

Maurice Hovells, a care home resident, said: “It is so wonderful that we have such a high level of intergenerational input here at Badgers Wood. 

"The Friend In Deed Project and everything Ruby has done for us with her grant make such a difference to our lives.

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed which helps create friendships betwe

care home residents Maurice Hovells from badgers Wood Care Home. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"We all love to see the children, hear their chatter and laughter, and I feel blessed that we can be part of their lives, as much as they are part of ours. Thank you on behalf of all the residents that live here.”

Ms Chilvers added: “Befriending relationships have such positive effects on both sides - it builds a level of understanding, where those relationships may not ordinarily have the opportunity to develop.” 

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed which helps create friendships betwe

Ruby Jennings is a junior ambassador for charity Friend in Deed which helps create friendships between younger children and residents in care homes. Ruby is pictured with with care home residents Maurice Hovells and Audrey Adcock from Badgers Wood Care Home. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Elsewhere, Emily Powley, from Horsford, has two children who are also involved in Friend in Deed, Vinnie, three, and Oliver, four.

Oliver and Vinnie Powley with some of their toys that they take into care homes to cheer up the resi

Oliver and Vinnie Powley with some of their toys that they take into care homes to cheer up the residents. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

“Oliver and Vinnie love going to Chiswick House, they often take their toys and show them to the residents," she said.

Oliver and Vinnie Powley with some of their toys that they take into care homes to cheer up the resi

Oliver and Vinnie Powley with some of their toys that they take into care homes to cheer up the residents. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

She added: “It has done so much for my children's confidence, and it’s taught them to have a huge amount of respect for elderly people. I also think it helps the elderly people, it makes them happy.”  

Oliver and Vinnie Powley doing a Where's Wally with their mum Emily. Picture: Danielle Booden

Oliver and Vinnie Powley doing a Where's Wally with their mum Emily. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Sophie Todd, 20 and from Norwich, has been involved in the charity for three or four years.

She said: “I did it as part of my community service for sixth form, I would go and sing to the residents, I also enjoyed printing the lyrics and handing them out so that the residents were able to join in with the songs. 

“For anyone thinking about being a part of it I would say go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose. They often have entertainment rotas where there have bingo or art sessions, just go and say hello, join in, you won’t regret it.” 

Kelly Lindsay, the director of the charity, said "Everything that we do at Friend in Deed focuses on showing kindness and we truly believe that we can make the world a happier and kinder place one conversation, one action and one community at a time."

Kelly Lindsay Director of Friend in Deed

Kelly Lindsay Director of Friend in Deed - Credit: Kelly Lindsay

She added: "Intergenerational friendships are a brilliant way for younger people to learn about empathy, tolerance and kindness. If children learn about these things at as young an age as possible, they are likely to be kind to everyone around them including other children.

baby making friends with elderly person

Befriending - Credit: Kelly Lindsay

"Our older friends in care homes still have so much to offer, we need to ensure that they are still included in our communities, have purpose and do not feel isolated."

Baby meets their older friend at Badgers Wood

Baby meets their older friend at Badgers Wood - Credit: Kelly Lindsay


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