Elderberries & Thimbleberries
Social deprivation in Erith is sadly very high, with a large number of single parent families and isolated elderly residents. As a school, during the past few decades, we have worked with local elderly, to include them in the life of the school.
This has included inviting members of our local community to join with us for events such as our Remembrance services, both at Christ Church and other schools within the Trust, to celebrate Christmas by visiting local residential care homes, singing Christmas carols, creating and delivering Christmas cards for our neighbours etc. Our termly church services are also open to members of the public to join us in our worship in times of Christian festival.
Continuing our work to care for our elderly neighbours, in the spring term, our Year 3 classes undertook a project to work with residents in the neighbouring care home; sharing stories, singing songs etc. The pupils and residents alike commented how much the interaction between generations was enjoyable, and as a school we realised the potential benefit and blessing we could be to our local community. Please see our video below, made in collaboration with InCommonLiving.com:
There is further information about this work on our InCommon page.
News was then published that the local Pop-In Parlours were to close, due to reduced funding. Both the Erith and Belvedere branches closed with little notice, and our elderly neighbours were left without a place to meet, be safe and be cared for.
Our project rapidly developed to work with Evergreen; a local Christian Charity who befriend and support local elderly people with home help and personal care. In collaboration with them, and the Churches Together in Bexley Partnership, Elderberries was created.
The group currently meet each Monday in a local church for morning coffee, cooked lunch (provided free by a local employer and ready meal manufacturer) and afternoon tea. The first location was agreed due to its proximity to the former Belvedere Pop-In Parlour. Our long-term aim is to plant an Elderberry lunch club in Christ Church, with support of our vicar, so that the model can then be adopted by other churches in the local area. In May, Mother Monica met with Pete Kot, Managing Director from Everygreen Bexley, and Mick Harvey, Director of Elderberries, to begin discussions around a satelite Elderberries club in Erith.
Pupils from Christ Church join Elderberries (affectionately known as the Thimbleberries) travel to Belvedere each Monday to spend time with the Elderberries; listening to and sharing stories, allowing Elderberries to reminisce about their own childhoods, as well as clearing tables, counting money in the till, supporting the volunteer and leadership team.
Pupils have already commented how much they enjoy seeing the Elderberry faces light up when speaking about their childhoods, and have enjoyed learning about the adventures and dreams from their youth. Our pupils have equally delighted the Elderberries, with comments including how much they appreciate being listened to, having interesting questions asked and enjoying the energy and zest for life our pupils bring.
Here are some of our Year 5 Thimbleberries collecting their certificates:
In recognition of the hard work by the Elderberries Team and the Thimbleberry Pupils from Christ Church (Erith) CofE Primary School, the Mayor came to visit on Monday 28th October, to see our pupils 'in action' and to speak with young and old.