Elderly inspire students to share their life stories in new magazine

English students at De Montfort University in Leicester (DMU) have been using their storytelling skills to write the life stories of elderly residents in a care home.


Final year English students Ciaran Quinn, Victoria Cox, Eleanor Woulfe, Lauren MacDougall have now produced Transitions, a magazine of stories all about the residents at Agnes House in Leicester.

Victoria said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to use our writing skills to record these unbelievable life experiences which are so commonly overlooked.”

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In a perfect demonstration of DMU’s public good ethos, the students came up with the idea of wanting to do something positive for the elderly as part of the module English in the Workplace. They approached DMU’s Square Mile programme, which shares the skills of staff and students with the community.

Between them they came up with the idea of visiting Agnes House to collect residents’ stories in association with the Learning for the Fourth Age scheme, which provides learning opportunities in care homes.

“We’re here most weeks now,” explained Ciaran. “We have got a good relationship built up now and their stories have been so moving.”

One of the residents featured is Alan, who talks about the moment he met his wife. “I’ve been here 18 months and it’s smashing,” he said. “The students have done a good job.”

Another resident, Lillian Rosalie added: “They are lovely. I like talking to them.”

Eleanor said: “From the moment we entered, we felt part of the community. Every Wednesday we looked forward to escaping there to hear the residents’ fascinating stories.”

Mark Charlton, manager of the Square Mile, said: “What is great about this project is that in October I handed these students a blank sheet of paper and asked them to create a DMU Square Mile project that highlighted the work of their course that would benefit the community. Their Transitions project has been inspiring to say the least.

"The students' commitment to working with the elderly residents of Agnes House to gather their life stories created some remarkable working relationships between different generations, but most importantly brought some fascinating life stories to the fore in the resulting Transitions magazine."
Posted on Thursday 16th April 2015

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