Brenda H and Diana

Volunteering Matters delivered 1 of the 3 Bristol Ageing Better Learning for Life Together projects funded by The Big Lottery. Older people (aged 50+) from the Hartcliffe, Bishopsworth and Withywood areas of Bristol were invited to share their skills, knowledge and experience of the local area over the past 100 years, firstly in reminiscence sessions, and then with a class of 7-9 year olds at nearby Four Acres Academy over 6 school visits.

Former schoolteacher Diana found an opportunity to use her research and teaching skills again with Volunteering Matters’ Learning for Life Together project

“I trained as a primary school teacher in 1968 and taught in schools as a music teacher and then a geography specialist. I ended up with glandular fever which turned into Myalgic Encephalopathy, or M.E. and had to retire from teaching in 1989. It took decades to recover.

Being involved with the Learning for Life Together project has given me the opportunity to use my research and teaching skills again. My role was to delve into local history, and remember what the neighbourhood was like in my childhood and how it’s changed. I shared what I learned with the other participants in preparation meetings, and then translated it down to child level for the school visits.

I volunteered because I like bringing my own skills and knowledge to a worthwhile project. I like the sense of helping people, of getting out and about. I have no close family in the area and volunteering is a way of connecting with other people.

I really enjoyed being back in the classroom again. The children found it utterly incredible to discover that the neighbourhood in which they lived wasn’t always there; 100 years ago it was fields and farmland and there was no electricity or running water.  We told the children about events that affected the area over the past 100 years and shared what life in the area was like before the housing estate was built, before everyone had a car, or any mod cons!

However, the best thing about the project was the camaraderie between the volunteers; I met new people and everyone was willing to share their stories. I was constantly learning from them. The teacher was very helpful too, and the children were so receptive.”