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Intergenerational boat building

25 Sep 2018

The Age Friendly domain ‘Respect and Social Inclusion’ looks at how older people in Bristol are connected to their local community, and if they feel respected and included in society. We want to tackle the common negative images of ageing that can result in disrespectful behaviour towards older people, and intergenerational projects are a great example of work that can help to challenge this.

Rocking the Boat, an intergenerational boat building project that brings together small groups of 16-24 year olds and over 50’s to build two boats from scratch is well underway! With the aim of breaking down social stereotypes associated with different age groups as well as reducing loneliness and social isolation Rocking the Boat is a project that benefits all that take part.

Over the eight-week course (one day a week) the participants work together, share skills and gain knowledge in a supportive and relaxed environment. In the final session sawing, sanding, painting, drilling, and drinking the occasional cup of tea in the workshop comes to an end as the boats are carried to the waters edge before launching onto the historic waters of Bristol Harbour.

On the 19th July 2018, the first Rocking the Boat dinghies successfully launched (to the joy of all involved!) and brought to an end the incredible first course. It was clear that a theme throughout this first course, and hopefully for the future courses, was the incredible working dynamic between the 16-24 year olds and the over 50s.

“Bringing generations together to build boats, gain knowledge and generate friendships. Eight weeks, two boats, one great experience and completely free for over 50’s.”

Alex Sivyer (Rocking the Boat Project Coordinator)

“Its definitely given me an experience of coming closer to older people which is really interesting because they have so much experience and wisdom and stories to tell”

George Read (16-24 Rocking the Boat Participant)

“They work harder when the kids are there than when they are not there! It cheers them up, you know, it makes them want to work harder”

Keith Bowers (Rocking the Boat Lead Boatbuilder talking to BBC Points West about the Over 50’s participants)

Preconceived views of the other age group were shattered over the eight weeks of this intergenerational project and for those involved it was clearly a joy as each week saw the group develop further.

“I look back and a lot of people have been saying “Oh you know young people are a bit work shy” so I was worried about if they would get involved with the physical side of boat building…. but it was a joy to see how they actually got involved, they got really stuck in, they were working twice as hard as me and twice as fast, so it was great!”

James Boston (Over 50 Rocking the Boat Participant talking to Emma Britton on BBC Radio Bristol)

The next course begins on the 23rd August 2018 as two more dinghies begin their journey from workshop to water, and eight 16-24 year olds alongside eight over 50’s gain skills, knowledge, break down social stereotypes and finish eight weeks onwards with an experience they won’t forget.


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