Intergenerational working between high school pupils from Dundee and Balhousie Clement Park

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Balhousie Clement Park, Harris Academy and St Johns High School came together over a year ago to give the opportunity to pupils of the school to access youth achievement or employability skills, by volunteering within the home.

The original idea was to have the young people coming into Balhousie Clement Park to chat and engage with the older members of their community. This soon ‘blossomed’ into a fantastic intergenerational initiative, that saw the youngsters visiting the home each Monday afternoon and work together with residents on a variety of projects and activities including gardening, mosaics, weaving and reminiscence sessions.

Access to Education Fund

The schools and Balhousie Care Group were delighted when a joint funding bid saw them secure £4,121 from ‘Access to Education Fund’ to finance their endeavours!

This project saw pupils build on their skills, knowledge, confidence, responsibility and has empowered them to contribute to their communities. In turn the residents of Clement Park have immensely enjoyed the ‘breath of fresh air’ that the young people bring with them on their weekly visits. It has also given residents the opportunity to maintain that very important link with their communities, has increased motivation, self-worth and there have been lots of fun and laughs along the way!

Learning transferrable and employable skills 

Harris Academy teachers Pam Cook and Karen Boath commented “We recognised that there may be some challenges along the way” Cheryl Banks, Participation Partner, Balhousie Care Group said “It was imperative to prepare the youngsters for the reality of 24 hour care and what they may experience on their visits. So together with the teachers we worked with the pupils and held sessions to chat and dispel any concerns”.

Everyone was delighted that there were no issues along the way and the whole experience has been extremely positive for all involved. One of the most inspirational examples of this is the story of Harris Academy pupil Chloe Walker. Chloe has truly found her vocation at Balhousie Clement Park and now volunteers twice a week and once she is old enough to leave school she will take a position as a full-time Care Assistant. Chloe’s words in an essay she wrote explains exactly what this project has meant:

 ‘Volunteering has changed my life, so yes, it is good for you.  It has given me opportunities and confidence to move on in my life and I recommend it to everyone. My dream has come true, I am working in a place where I am making a difference and it feels right for me.  I have the biggest smile on my face when I walk in the building. 

 Volunteering there makes me feel good about myself.  Seeing the residents smiling and making them laugh makes it all worthwhile.  The Balhousie Care Home, Clement Park, has meant that I am sharing my time between them and school and this has meant that I am settled at school and now have a goal of working full-time at the home.  They have said they would be willing to employ me and give me training when I leave school, so that is fantastic!’

Celebration event

There is to be celebration event at Clement Park on Monday 22nd June that will see everyone enjoy a high tea and where there shall be a showcase of the project, with Dundee City Council’s Director of Education, Michael Wood popping along to see for himself the great work that has been going on.

Balhousie Care Group and Dundee City Council’s Education Department look forward to the new term starting where the strong partnership links established will continue and more young people of Dundee shall be welcomed into Balhousie care homes.