Young visitors helping to build a strong community in Dover

Contributed by editor on May 28, 2017 - 11:25 AM


When it comes to building communities as well as providing homes, few landlords go as far as West Kent Housing Association.


In the most recent demonstration of its commitment to that ideal, one of the association’s newest homes has forged links across the generations as well as supporting local children with special needs.

Residents at Beeches in Dover, one of five new extra care schemes being managed by West Kent, provide a warm welcome each week to youngsters from the nearby Whitfield Aspen Primary School.

Frankie at the Beeches

As well as bringing some of its more able children to practise reading to the over-55s in the Emerald scheme home, special needs teacher Natalie Sparnon also brings one of the children with severe learning disabilities.

Whitfield Aspen is a fully inclusive school – one of just a few in the county – where mainstream children mix and learn with others with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Those youngsters include nine year-old Frankie, who joined Fletcher, aged seven, and Freddie, six, on a recent trip to the Beeches, due to be officially opened on Wednesday 5 July.

“Coming to Beeches and meeting the older people is really valuable to us and we hope it gives the residents as much pleasure as it does the youngsters,” said Natalie.

“The children get really excited coming here. As well as bringing some of our year two pupils here to read and chat, we bring some of our year threes up on a Thursday to sit and sew with the residents. They absolutely love it.”

On their recent visit, Fletcher and Freddie had a great time demonstrating their spinners – a recent playground craze – as well as reading to their older friends. The pupils and staff also used Makaton sign language to wish Beryl Adams a happy 92nd birthday.

Some of the children have also been invited to attend the official opening of the sheltered scheme in July and have been teaching their friends how to sign “Good afternoon and welcome to Beeches”.

Natalie commented: “Our visits help the children to speak with confidence and they really get on well with the residents. Not all our children are lucky enough to have grandparents and so this is a lovely experience for them. We get lots of positive feedback.”

Scheme Manager Juliette Field added her support for the visits, highlighting how much the residents looked forward to seeing their young friends. “It’s a really special part of their week,” she said.

Top photo: Young visitor from the Aspen Primary School

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