Hens bring Batley school children and older people together

Linson Court residents with the school pupils

A food project to reduce social isolation in older people has paired a Batley Junior and Infants School with a local care home, with fantastic results.

Food for Life brings schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes, and their surrounding communities together around the core ethos of healthy, tasty and sustainable food. Their latest programme Better Care aims to demonstrate that good food not only plays a role in improving health and wellbeing, but can also help to tackle experience of loneliness for older people.

As part of the programme children from Field Lane Junior and Infants School visited residents in Linson Court Care Home (also in Batley) to build a hen coop together. The children heard some great stories about food and farming and the residents enjoyed sharing their experiences. Some of the people who took part in the project feature in a short film (below) that has been made to celebrate the project. The Better Care programme is run by Food for Life who are running three pilot projects across the UK. Food for Life Better Care works in partnership with both Calderdale and Kirklees Public Health teams.

Katie Drewery Teacher at Field Lane Junior and Infants School, said:

“My class have been involved in this project for a few months now and there have been so many surprises! I have seen the children listen with genuine enthusiasm to the stories of residents, even retelling them back at school and home. Others have sat with some residents, as simply being there is just as important as talking. It has been a wonderful project for the children in my class who enjoy talking and listening to others. These children have been able to create a meaningful connection with someone of another age/culture which to me, is just as important as the curriculum. It gives them the mindset that we should look after our elderly in the community, as they have so much to give. Having only begun the project, I am excited for the surprises which I am sure will continue to emerge as our links grow. I am sure the children will remember these experiences for years to come, as I am sure I will”.

Fiona Todd, Linson Court activity co-ordinator told us:

“The hens are settling in nicely, and the residents that the children spoke to were very happy to share their stories with them and delighted that the children had so many questions to ask.  More residents have been to have a look at the chickens and said what a lovely idea it is, so hopefully there will be a chance to get more residents and children involved as we carry on with the project.”

The Batley partnership is the first in a series of planned projects as part of the Calderdale and Kirklees pilot. Dr Susannah McWilliam, Better Care Programme Manager said:
“Through Better Care we are testing a hypothesis: if older people have better access to nutritious food, therapeutic food activities and shared mealtimes across care homes, community care services and hospitals, they will be less susceptible to malnutrition and loneliness and will enjoy enhanced health and wellbeing.”

You can find more information about the project, and the pilots in other areas, on the Food for Life website.

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