The Art of Letter Writing project continues integrating intergenerational activities.

Demand for this project continues and the latest delivery took part in the south of Bolsover District with two dementia support groups who meet weekly at Woburn Resource Centre in Blackwell and Jubilee Court in Pinxton. This service, delivered by Derbyshire County Council is a lifeline for individuals and their families and clients travel from all over the surrounding area including Hardstoft, Tibshelf, Newton, Hilcote, Westhouses and South Normanton.


As we now know, the sessions with Karen Millhouse, an archivist from the Derbyshire Record Office are really popular and our participants really enjoyed listening to the historic letters being read to them and then discussing them one by one. Of particular interest to these groups were the letters written by WWI soldiers to their families back in Derbyshire. The letters are a wonderful way to learn about the past but also a brilliant way to trigger reminiscence and lively conversation.

Up to this point the project was delivered as before, but now it diverged from the previous model. For some time now we’ve had an ambition to broaden its scope by introducing an intergenerational element and because both of these groups have an existing relationship with children from the local primary schools, we were able to pilot our ideas.

Children from Blackwell Primary School and the Pinxton Village Academies visit the elderly clients on a regular basis and they too were excited to get involved in the project. Members of both dementia groups wrote to the children, telling them a little about themselves, their childhoods and their schooldays. We put a stamped addressed envelope and notecard in each letter so that the children could write their replies and post them back. The replies were eagerly awaited and the exchanges were an opportunity to learn a bit more about each other, both the similarities and the differences!

The final workshop saw the elderly participants and the school children come together to make an illuminated letter. Everyone sat around the table and decorated their initials using coloured pens and gold leaf, supporting each other and chatting as they worked. It was a very special scene to witness.

All round, the project succeeded and proved just how positive intergenerational working can be. Kelly Atherton who runs the groups said:

‘As a staff team we think it’s been a really enjoyable project. The intergenerational working was very successful and it has had a positive impact on all. The resources we got to use were very good, especially the gold leaf. The letters from the Record Office were great to hear.’

Some of the comments from our service users are as follows

‘It was so delightful to work with the children and it was very special that they had an interest in us.’ 

‘We enjoyed the art work it was great to do something different and the gold leaf was amazing!’

This project was been funded by a Healthy Bolsover grant and we would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners from Derbyshire County Council and all the volunteers who supported the workshops.