BRINGING OLDER PEOPLE INTO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH HISTORY

I am very happy to join Grey Pride, having signed the petition for a dedicated Minister, and followed the campaign on Twitter.

Since late 2010 I have been working with a group of World War Two evacuees in Greater Manchester - they fled to England from Guernsey in June 1940 just before the German occupation of their island. They lived in Northern England for the five years of the war, and for various reasons, remained here after the war.

My aim in setting up the community group was to reduce their social isolation by bringing them into the community to share their wartime stories with people of all ages.Some have mobility problems and rarely left their homes before we set up our group, and their confidence has increased as well as their wellbeing. They have made new friends, and have been able to share traumatic aspects of war time evacuation with each other. They have also become involved in creating a booklet about their experiences, and begun to record their stories onto CDs.

To date we have held six community events, and we have more planned for this year.  A  large number of school children and students have been able to learn about wartime evacuation in a very personal,  interactive manner. We have also met with groups of older people and families. Our event at Stockport Art Gallery in October 2011 attracted 300 people from all walks of life.

At present I am applying  for funding to continue our work  (all suggestions gratefully received) - in the past we received a grant from UNLtd and from the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester.

I feel that those who lived through World War Two are our 'living history' and that they have so much to share with their communities. Bringing the elderly into contact with their local communities is wonderful for everyone concerned, as it reduces social isolation and bridges the generation gap; It should be compulsory in every town and village!

You can read more about our Evacuee Community Group activities at my website and blog:

http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/community-project/

You can also read the 1940 daily diary of an evacuated Guernsey Mother at:

http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/diary-of-an-evacuee-jun-1940/

This photograph shows some of the evacuees sharing their personal stories at Stockport Art Gallery

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