Bytes and Bites – A Cross Generational Learning Project
Led by Carmarthenshire 50+ Forum
Carmarthenshire 50+ Forum has received funding approval from West Wales Care Partnership to run a cross-generational community project across locations in Carmarthenshire. The purpose is to connect people who are 50+ with local young people to share learning and skills. The aim is to enrich lives through developing strong support networks, positively impact on health and wellbeing, and reduce social isolation and digital exclusion.
The approach will be to run regular informal sessions that are interactive, sociable and fun and provide new skills and useful, relevant information for those who take part. We will build a tangible sense of community and engage older people in inter-generational exchange with younger people at places like Community Halls and Youth Clubs. This will become a 2 way exchange of skills and experience with young people showing older folk how to use technology to access internet based services, and older folk helping young people develop skills like gardening, food preparation, cooking, and craft skills like mending bicycles and other items.
We have tested this model with our partners in Carmarthen – Dr Mz Youth Project, Digital Communities Wales, and Carmarthen Town Council. The first Bytes and Bites session saw 20 or so older people being coached by 10 Youth Project members on using their mobile devices and having an afternoon tea prepared by the young people. Our evaluations show it was a great success and there are requests to hold it in other localities. We expect that the process of sitting and having a snack meal together will also be beneficial in building mutual respect, forming cross generational relationships and enabling people to share their fears and challenges in a supportive setting.
Although COVID 19 has prevented us from launching this project as initially planned, we can now see a way to get things moving from September – although our engagement process will likely be a little different due to social distancing rules.
We will shortly appoint a part-time co-ordinator to engage with Schools, Youth Clubs and Town and Community Councils across Carmarthenshire to resource sessions in a range of ways and locations. Digital Communities Wales trained the young people for our first session and will continue to work with us across Carmarthenshire and build a network of Digital Champions in the places we visit.