Community Values from the Perspective of the Old(er!)

Engaging in dialogue in the care home

Engaging in dialogue in a Crewe Supported Home


Crewe Town Council recently gave a small grant to TYA Creative and me to develop a project around British Values, with a particular emphasis on developing understanding between young and old in the town.  We see this as an opportunity to address the British Values agenda in a meaningful and educationally purposeful way.  In a previous post we outlined the thinking behind our approach.  Here we describe our work with at group of residents at a supported housing scheme in Crewe.  Our next post will describe our work in local schools, before a post describing the final inter-generational dialogue.

We arranged to meet residents at Pickmere Court, not knowing how many (if any) of them would be interested in participating in the project.   In the event, a group of eight residents participated enthusiastically and some fascinating ideas emerged.  We asked them, in pairs, to choose one of the following questions which were printed on A4 paper and spread around the space:

  • What values shouldn’t be forgotten?
  • What makes a community work?
  • Is community a thing of the past?
  • How important is the past to the future?
  • What questions do older generations need to ask of the young?
  • To what extent do communities need to be open to change?
  • In what ways have society’s values changed during our lifetimes?
  • Are young people valued in our communities?

They also had a choice of images of life in Crewe (past, present and projected future) to act as a focus for their discussions.  Each pair explored their question and fed back to the group; ideas were aired, challenged and built-upon and some common themes emerged.  These included:

  • a perceived fall in tolerance in communities;
  • the perceived role of the media in emphasising difference and fracturing communities;
  • the need to get people working together with a shared interest / stake in the community – to generate pride in the community;
  • a sense of self-worth being a prerequisite to being able to reach out to others;
  • the need to learn from the past, but to remain open to change for the future;
  • the importance of caring for others and having the opportunity to make a contribution to society;
  • the pressures on young people in modern society (e.g. shortage of work and lack of affordable housing);
  • the impact of social media on the size and nature of communities.
Some of the values needed in communities

Some of the values needed in communities

In a second session we focused the dialogue on the values we would like to see ‘built-in’ to communities and on how various institutions (homes, schools, town halls etc.) could come to embody these values.  Tolerance, truth (especially in the media), and ‘civic pride’ (with a particular emphasis on engagement in local democracy) emerged as key concepts.  We then asked the residents for stories drawn from their personal experiences that exemplified the importance of these values.  These stories were captured on video; two examples can be seen below:

Next we will take the outcomes of these sessions to local schools to begin our dialogue with the younger generation; this will be the subject of the next post.




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