Where are we now? The development of the Camden Intergenerational Network
John Miles, Chair of the Camden Intergenerational Network, refelcts on how far the network has come and and where it is headed in 2017 and beyond.
Its eighteen months since the last Camden Intergenerational Week and just under six months till the next one in October. Since January 2016, when we held our final meeting with Vanda Carter in her former role as Camden’s part-time intergenerational officer, the Network has been quietly productive. We’ve established a steering group and agreed a constitution. We’ve held four successful meetings each attended by at least fifteen people and carried out a member survey. There’s a growing recognition that the Network’s job is to serve as a platform, showcasing our members’ activities rather than running things directly.
We think the Network has the potential to influence community development. If we live lives increasingly segregated by age that gap can seem mild compared to the gulf between the organisations who serve us. But here things are changing in Camden. A youth worker manager and a young parent attended our most recent meeting. Meanwhile, the new Camden Youth Foundation (CYF) has started life by supporting a round of bids for intergenerational work.
The YCF projects and the Intergenerational Week offer a tremendous opportunity for public involvement through ‘creativity, community, friendship and fun’ at local level. But they may also bring energy and vision to a more ambitious project of age integration and community life. We need to link school and home, day centre and sports-pitch, museum and park. Camden has been bucking a trend. Intergenerational practice had a brief time in the policy spotlight ten years ago but since then has slid a long way down the scale of government priorities. In Camden, we’ve been fortunate that talented and committed people kept talking the talk and walking the walk - and were prepared to do so on a shoe-string. Bringing the generations together doesn’t need a great deal of direct investment. It should be about reordering the way we do things, bypassing the divisions we take for granted. We hope in the year ahead to see more and more people joining the Network conversation.
The Conversation: Linda, Avesha and Iman
Linda: What do you want to be when you leave school?
Avesha: A teacher.
Linda: That’s good.
Iman: I want to be a teacher.
Linda: Sometimes as a teacher it is good to bring life experiences to your job. I lived in lots of different countries because of my husband’s job, Asia, South America. I brought those experiences into my teaching.
You could go and do something for three or four years. Teaching is not a soft option and you have to like children. There are good doctors and bad doctors, good accountants and bad ones but people can normally count the number of good teachers on one hand. Can you remember the good teachers that you had?
Iman: Yes. It was Miss Machicado she always helped me with my work and she came from Brazil and started an after school club to teach Spanish and the Club is still on today and lots of children go to it.
Linda: She sounds special.
Avesha: My favourite teacher was Miss Pye every Friday she made up something called FAT – it was short for Friday’s Activity Today and anytime I needed help she would help me.
Linda: So she was kind… do you reckon that is what makes a good teacher – being kind?
Avesha: No not really.
Linda: Oh I think being kind is important, don’t you?
Iman: When you are teaching you have to know when to be strict.
Linda: Well that’s true.
Iman: You have to show the children you are teaching that you are in charge. We had a teacher and a lot of the children played around because she had just started teaching and they took the mickey out of her and now she is very strict and we all behave!
Linda: So you have to have boundaries. You are right I went to teach in a Primary School with seven year olds and their last supply teacher they had locked in the cupboard!
Iman: A cupboard?
Linda: Yes. So I didn’t let them go out to play for a whole year.
Avesha: What about lunch break?
Linda: No! They stayed indoors and I eat with them. The reason for that was to set a high standard and show them who was boss!
Camden Health Kick
Camden Health Kick is a new three-year intergenerational project offering local Camden residents new, fun, free, and engaging healthy living activities for people of all ages.
Our aim is to increase the health and wellbeing of individuals and families, giving them the tools and knowledge to do so! The project is a consortium of three organisations; Queens Crescent Community Association, Kentish Town City Farm, and Castle Haven Community Association.
Together, we will be offering healthy living activities for you and your family including; Horse Care sessions, Farm Crafting, Horticultural/ Gardening Session, Sporting Sessions, Healthy Cooking & Eating on a Budget, Family fitness sessions, Health Checks, Health Awareness Workshops, and six-month Gym Membership. These sessions are sure to help you develop a healthier and more active lifestyle as well as develop meaningful friendships with local members of the community.
This intergenerational healthy families project is guaranteed to provide everyone involved with intergenerational connections that will be valuable for the community.
More info can be found on the Camden Health Kick website or contact the Project Coordinator, Charmaine Browne, on 020 7267 6635