A Nottingham company is appealing for schools and care homes to take part in a pioneering pilot project after it became one the first organisations in the country to receive funding from a new scheme designed to help communities recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Infused Learning, a not-for-profit training and education provider, wants to reduce the high levels of social isolation and loneliness that children and old people have been suffering during the coronavirus lockdowns by bringing them together to take part in activities online after it was awarded £46,000 from the new £4.75m UnLtd Inclusive Recovery Fund, which was launched towards the end of last year.
The money will pay towards running a pilot project called the Inter-generational Unity Challenge, which will see educational professionals from Infused delivering online sessions with school students aged nine to 16 years, which will then be used to create recorded activities and live interaction sessions for elderly people, including those with dementia, in care homes.
Infused Learning was among the first organisations in the country to receive money from the fund, which is designed to help social entrepreneurs deliver their important services and even grow their impact while adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic and is a partnership between UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, and Comic Relief and is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as part of the Government’s £750 million support package for charities.
It hopes that the project will enable school students to develop a range of personal and practical skills whilst having fun – they can also gain a Level 1 Award in Personal Potential as part of their participation – while care home residents will be able to share their experiences and knowledge via the activities, which will follow themes such as art, local history, theatre, singing, mindfulness, games and physical exercise.
Infused Learning, which is based in St Peter’s Street, plans to launch the project next month before taking it nationwide next year, and is now on the look-out for local schools and care homes to take part.
Natalie Sharpe, co-founder of Infused Learning, said: “This project will make a direct difference in helping combat social isolation which for many is at a crisis point within this pandemic.
“The high reach of this project means that we will be able to directly impact more than 1,000 young and older participants within the designated activities and interactions and will be able to reach hundreds more post project by the creation of an online platform of stored activities for care homes to utilise to create a lasting legacy.
“This will unquestionably help unite the Nottinghamshire communities during these unprecedented times by connecting generations and inspiring their desire to learn together, instead of separating and isolating them.”
Natalie and Infused Learning’s co-founder, Tara Askham, developed the project after learning about the health impacts of social isolation and their belief in the power of intergenerational learning to help bring people together.
Figures from the Campaign to End Loneliness show that the number of over 50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6, while research from FE Week found that 76% five to 16-year-olds suffered loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tara said: “More and more research shows that social isolation is one of the largest health concerns we face, leading to loneliness, depression, vulnerability and other negative health consequences, and while older people are particularly affected, significant numbers of children and young people have also suffered loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It has also been shown that mixing generations together can be a great way to combat loneliness, which is why we are delighted to be launching our Inter-generational Unity Project.
“We are so proud to have a winning concept we can pilot in our home county and hope to grow and expand this project across the UK in the future demonstrating the immense benefits this type of learning brings to individuals and communities.”