Belltree is entering its tenth year of providing 1:1 and group therapy to children, young people and adults with a wide range of needs including learning disabilities, autism, mental health problems, neurological conditions and dementia in the Brighton and Hove area and beyond. Belltree is a small Community Interest Company which has been mainly a paying service with sessions funded by schools, social care services and private funders.
This year Belltree began its first intergenerational project funded by the Big Lottery Fund, bringing nursery school children together with older people in a care home. It is called the Dusty Bluebells Project and involves storytelling, singing and music-making. It’s aim was initially to reduce social isolation experienced by people in care homes, through illness and physical separation – but the benefits have reached far wider, with the nursery staff, children and their families also reporting very positive results from the project. The children have developed their confidence in singing and music making, and extended their repertoire, while forming strong and lasting bonds with the older people. The nursery staff have developed their skills in storytelling and singing with the children and have built the new repertoire into everyday nursery life.
The benefits of intergenerational work for emotional wellbeing and a sense of community cohesion are being increasingly recognized and Belltree is looking to expand the project across the community. The Belltree team is looking forward to welcoming a ‘Young Entrepreneur’ via the Erasmus program to help achieve its aim to expand the project across the city.