15 July 2019
Our Property and Development Managers really are everyday heroes or, as we like to call them, FirstPort Everyday Heroes. Whether it’s going above and beyond when something goes wrong, or enriching the lives of our residents, they’re making a difference day in, day out.
Today we want to tell you a story about Diane, a FirstPort Development Manager and Everyday Hero who created strong bonds for her retirement residents and the younger members of the local community.
An opportunity to make a difference
When chatting to her residents, Diane got the impression that, despite the lovely development community, some of them really missed not having family close by and sometimes felt a little lonely. Diane also noticed how they would sit and watch the children walk to and from the local primary school each day, every morning and every afternoon at the same time.
“It brought them so much joy and happiness to see the children walking to school or playing in the playground. It was the highlight of some of their days,” Diane said. “I knew if I could find a way for them to engage with the children, I could create something special and leave a memorable mark on their lives,” Diane added.
Bringing two generations together
Determined to find a way to make it work, Diane spoke to the local primary school’s Head Teacher and talked to residents about a potential fortnightly programme of regular visits with the primary school to forge friendships and bring the local community together.
It all started with an informal meeting to allow both groups to get to know each other, and it soon blossomed into beautiful friendships with the meetings becoming the highlight of the two groups’ weeks. “The children were very shy to start with, but our residents quickly put them as ease”, Diane said.
All of the children would bring toys, games, arts, and crafts for them all to play with, relationships began to form and personalities matched. “It was heart-warming to see strong bonds being made week by week. One of my elderly residents would sit down on the floor with the children as soon as they came in and start playing puzzles and games.” Diane said.
A special bond
They loved the meet ups so much that, they both regularly invited one another to their own events, such as the school nativity play where the children insisted that their new friends from across the road took the front row ‘VIP’ seats.
“We are all so happy with how the programme turned out. It’s been really rewarding to see the confidence grow in both groups and to see how it’s helped them all really engage with the community,” Diane said.
“It’s been so much more than forming friendships. I’ve noticed that the well-being and mental health of my residents has improved dramatically and the school tells me the children’s confidence and social skills have been hugely enhanced.”
“We often have parents pop into the development on the way into school to say hello – I really hope the relationships continue for many years to come.” Diane concludes.
Diane is now the Development Manager at another FirstPort retirement development and is putting her experience to good use. She’s already started a belly dancing class for her new residents, which has been warmly received, and she’s looking into other well-being projects to make a difference to even more of our residents’ lives.
Diane’s previous development is now cared for by one of her colleagues, Jane, who is continuing to keep the links between her residents and the local primary school strong.