Libertus Connecting Generations Project, Edinburgh

Overview
Over the past 8 years Libertus has run an intergenerational drama group involving writing, designing and performing seven original theatre productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Libertus is the largest voluntary sector Day Care Centre in South Edinburgh (Gilmerton, Burdiehouse, Southhouse, Inch, Liberton, Hyvots and Gracemount). It supports people of all ages who experience physical or learning disabilities or age-related infirmity.

‘The Seven Delightful Things'  project was a year-long series of intergenerational projects based on the themes of the seven deadly sins. It enabled participants to engage with the arts and experience the joy of being active and creative.

The ‘Dissolution of Physicality' multimedia project  focused on the enforced loss of being active, feeling isolated, and loss of confidence and communication. It was funded through Connecting Generations between January and October 2008. It explored the effects of isolation and how these can be moderated.
Through local advertising, 16 children under 11, twelve people with special needs between 17 to 64 and twenty-four adults over 64 were recruited. They met weekly to undertake a wide range of activities, including:
•film-making, including writing, story boards and editing
•Libertus radio show
•drama production
•photography workshops
•talking newspaper
•new video production ‘Animated City' underway.

Continuity achieved by:
•Productions at the Fringe in 2009
•Leith FM broadcasting the radio show
•The talking newspaper absorbed by the local newspaper
•Lottery-funded development worker recruited to help groups become self-sustaining.

Key success factors
•engaging and innovative approaches to bring the generations together in arts activities  fostering mutual tolerance, understanding and a greater willingness to work together.
•the wider community given opportunities to hear and see productions helping people to understand isolation, thus encourage others to engage with Libertus.

Challenges
•need for marketing, planning, funding and co-ordination
•logistics of assembling intergenerational groups, including ensuring participants remember to attend!
•need to be flexible and hard-working
•need for support staff and sessional workers
•accessing and paying drivers for evening bus services
•need to keep the momentum of activities going at the right pace for all participants.

Key Lessons
•an understanding of how the energy and vitality young people bring to groups can lift the spirits and moods of older adults
•realisation by younger people that older adults, perhaps increasingly frail, may have led exciting lives, such as being a fighter pilot!

Contact: Jason Lee, Libertus, 20 Gracemount Drive, Edinburgh EH16 6RN
Tel: 0131 672 0984. Visit Libertus Website with its podcasts and video links. Illustrative paintings from Libertus Intergenerational Projects.

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