Life Stories Project
We have been running our third project which has involved a collaboration between us and not only Mayfield School but also Heathfield Community College. It has been a different project to take on, since there have been new challenges to overcome. We needed to work out the logistics of working with a school which wasn't in the village and there were changes that we made along the way. We have learnt a lot and again it has been an interesting venture to embark on.
We will be taking a year's break from this project whilst we concentrate on other activities. It is also a difficult time to take on a project such as this, as the whole premise is to work together, face to face, to build a rapport between the younger and older generation.
Second project completed!
MAYFACS have collaborated with Mayfield School twice, once in January 2018 running a pilot programme for Bridging Ages, providing feedback to them on how the project could be expanded nationally, and then again in January 2019.
The girls, who were in their first year of sixth form, attended training learning about: ageism, the physical and sensory decline associated with ageing, interview and writing techniques, safeguarding and emergency procedures.
After the training they were matched with an older participant. The girls then interviewed their older partner over several weeks and made lots of notes about their life, whilst eating cake! They got to know each other over this time, built up a friendship and an understanding about each other's generation. The girls then wrote the notes up into a book format, written in the first person narrative.
The books are not strictly biographies; rather a young person’s retelling of the stories they’ve heard and a reflection of the experiences of both participants. Each participant’s life story has been published as a hardback book and presented to the older participant during a celebration lunch.
A Life Stories book is an important family document for future generations. Families can order more copies and usually do! However, the real value of the project lies in the process of making the books. The interview sessions give support to older people who may be lonely. The conversations stimulate reflection on a life lived and honour that life. Young people get an opportunity to hear a first-hand account of history and learn from previous generations. For many, this project is an introduction to volunteering. In addition, the students meet the tremendous scholastic challenge of actually writing a book!
The Life Stories Project builds respect, trust and empathy between generations – and that makes our communities stronger.