Bernard Cribbins stresses importance of connecting young and old through storytelling

Bernard Cribbins
Bernard Cribbins

A charity is tackling the disconnect between generations as research reveals nearly half (47%) of older people think younger people are simply not interested in what they have to say.

Proving this point, research by older people’s charity Anchor found a third of children questioned said they didn’t know what their grandparents had done for a job and 37% had no idea where they grew up.


In response to this, Anchor is working with veteran actor Bernard Cribbins to launch Life Histories, a nationwide schools initiative to help children learn about older people’s lives. The charity has created packs for teachers, suited to the new curriculum. It is linking with schools across the country to encourage children to find out more about the older people in their communities, including Anchor’s care homes and retirement housing.


Despite four in five (78%) older people saying they have advice they would like to share with younger generations, over three quarters (76%) think their life experiences won’t be passed on. The charity found that one in five children (19%) aged 5 to 11 never spends time with older people who aren’t their grandparents.


With loneliness and isolation a growing issue for our ageing society, 92% of older people agree that spending time with younger people could help those who are lonely.


Yet sadly, 14% of older people say they never see family members who are children. And 68% of older people don’t have any regular contact with young people outside of their family.


The Life Histories initiative was inspired by Anchor’s approach of asking about an older person’s past when they come into their care. The schools packs were issued to 15,000 head teachers this month.


The teaching guide has been designed to deliver key National Curriculum learning outcomes for children in years five and six (ages 9 to 11), while breaking down the barriers between the young and old.


Life Histories is being supported by acting legend Bernard Cribbins, 85. Cribbins’ seventy-year career has included working with Alfred Hitchcock and appearing in the Carry On films, Jackanory and Dr Who. He is known to millions for narrating The Wombles and to current generations of children as the star of Old Jack’s Boat.


He says: “Everybody has a story to tell, and children love to listen to stories. It’s so important to encourage new generations to spend time speaking with their seniors. It’s not just sitting with your Gran for 10 minutes at Christmas time; it’s about building more contact with older people into everyday lives.”


Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft comments: “At Anchor, the care we provide is shaped by an understanding of a person’s life history. Good care is built on good relationships so the more we know about the person the better the relationships will be.


“Taking the time to listen to and learn from the memories and experiences of older generations shouldn’t just be left to care homes. By encouraging schools to do the same we’re hoping to create connections across the generations, something that will be hugely rewarding for younger and older people alike.”


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