Volunteering Matters on BBC Radio Bristol

11 Jan 2017

On Wednesday 11th January, Jenny Szewiel and Diana Porter from Volunteering Matters joined John Darvall on the studios of BBC Radio Bristol to talk about Learning for Life Together. Learning for Life Together is an intergenerational oral history and social action project, linking older people (aged 50+) with a class of young people at a school near Dundry Slopes in Bristol. This project is part of Bristol Ageing Better's Learning for Life Together stream of funding, which is supporting 3 pilot projects, including Volunteering Matters, across the city.

This exciting new project provides a space for local volunteers to research the history of the area, and to share their own accounts of living and seeing the area evolve into what it is today. Diane Porter, Lead Volunteer for the project shared her own experiences of growing up in the area: "My house should've been built in 1939, however the war began, so house-building was halted. And then it was built in 1950, I was a baby-in-arms when we moved in and there were fields at the bottom of our garden, and we could see my grandparents house up on the slopes of Dundry. And then gradually, the states of Withywood and Hartcliffe were built. (...) I can remember those houses being built and I was only young and I remember saying "those houses are marching up the hill", of course, people laugh now when I say that, but that was my childhood interpretation." 

Jenny Szewiel, Regional Volunteer Manager for Volunteering Matters, highlighted the impact that projects like this can have in engaging people with their communities: "One of the benefits that people can get from being part of the project is meeting new people, both their peers and also children of the area and different people in the community." To which she added: "As a charity, we are very concerned about loneliness and isolation among older people, and we partnered with Bristol Ageing Better, who gave us the funding to run this project. We want to help people aged 50+ to engage with other people, engage with younger people and to feel more part of their communities."

Jenny and Diane with John Darvall at BBC Radio Bristol studios

Jenny and Diane with John Darvall at BBC Radio Bristol studios.

John Darvall valued the added value this project provides by recording and sharing the local history and the untold stories of everyday life in the area: "If we don't tell that kind of history, that's it and it's gone. Then history becomes only dates, kings and battles, it's not personable, it's not what life was like for a generation."

Volunteering Matters is holding an Open Meeting for this project to encourage people to join in on Thursday 9th February at the Withywood Centre (Queens Road, Withywood, Bristol BS13 8QA) from 1pm until 2.30pm, where you can find out more about the project and how to get involved. They are encouraging people aged 50+ who live in the area to join, you don't need to have always lived around Dundry Slopes, but to have an interest in connecting with others, researching history and sharing stories. For more information you can contact Jenny on 0117 935 9710 or 07919 335444, or by email jenny.szewiel@volunteeringmatters.org.uk.  Click here to find out more about this fantastic opportunity.

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