— Elderly and students will send each other book reviews and recommendations —
An academy trust is extending its innovative reading campaign into care homes throughout the coronavirus crisis to keep its students motivated, support the elderly – and connect young and old.
The scheme will see Northern Education Trust (NET), which runs 21 academies in the north of England, send hundreds of books for care home residents that its students will also be reading, with the elderly and students then encouraged to send book reviews to one another.
Rob Tarn, the Chief Executive of the Trust, said that as well as providing books to care home residents for free at a time when they are having to stay indoors and are not allowed visitors, the move would reduce loneliness, support inter-generational socialising, and keep his students motivated while they were away from school.
NET has developed a secondary school reading programme called “Reading Routes” to help students foster a love of reading. Based on the London Underground map, there are three routes, with railway lines translated into genres of book and each station expressed as a book. The Trust and its schools buy students the books they want to read and each time pupils read a book they get a stamp. After three years they could have read all 90 books on the 18 routes, which connect the Trust’s schools from Bolton to Barnsley, Stockton to Sunderland, and Northumberland to Gateshead.
Now the Trust is going to buy hundreds of books to send to care homes in the areas where it has academies. Care home residents will be encouraged to write and send reviews of the books to the students, who will then use those recommendations to decide whether they will read them. The students will be encouraged to write back with their thoughts on the book, and make their own suggestions of other books the residents may want to read.
Rob Tarn, the Chief Executive of Northern Education Trust, said:
“Reading Routes has been incredibly successful within our schools and we recognise that over the next three months students will be away from school and motivation may sometimes be difficult. We are of course also aware that the elderly in care homes are having to isolate and may become lonely because of the lack of social interaction.
“So we have decided to send hundreds of our books to the elderly, and then they and our students can connect with each other about which books they have read and which they would recommend.”
A number of care homes have already signed up to take part including two in Hoyland, where NET runs Kirk Balk Academy, and two in Bolton, where NET runs Kearsley Academy, as well as in Gateshead, where students from Thorp Academy have been delivering books to Lindisfarne Care Home after disinfecting them.
Meanwhile, the Abbeyfield Society, the largest charity for older people in the UK, has of its homes involved, with over 100 elderly residents benefiting.
David McCullough, Chief Executive of The Abbeyfield Society, said: “The Abbeyfield Society was founded to help older people in our society live companionable and fulfilling lifestyles, and in these unprecedented times, with residents unable to have visits from their loved ones, combatting loneliness has never been more important. Schemes like this are a fantastic way to create new connections, keep the mind active and show the older people in our society that they have not been forgotten. We are hugely grateful to Northern Education Trust for allowing Abbeyfield and our residents to take part in this wonderful project!”
Vici Bennett, from Lindisfarne Care Home, said:“It’s been amazing. It’s brought some real smiles to residents’ faces and has made a real connection with the outside world that we are not able to get into at the moment. It’s made the residents feel very special.”