Gigi recognised an increase of children in the news leaving their home in other countries as refugee’s and asylum seekers and going to ‘safe’ places due to war and oppression. She also understood that this may be difficult for school children to comprehend as they have not experienced what it is like to live in a country at war. Despite dementia, she wanted to give young people an insight into the difficulties people face by sharing her story of growing up in war time Belgium, but wasn’t sure how to achieve it.
Thanks to the Time to Connect project, Jackie, a staff member at the Devonshire Days service that Gigi attends, contacted the teachers at Devonshire Park School to arrange for her to talk with the children during Mental Health Week.
Gigi was supported by Jackie in a lively discussion at the school which allowed Gigi to talk freely and to also indicate when she got tired, discussing her life growing up and giving the pupils an insight into how difficult it was for her and her community in Belgium during a time of uncertainty and war. Despite recalling graphical sights, the children listened in awe and wonderment at her story. When tired, she encouraged the children to be engaged by asking lots of questions.
This simple story of connection across ages has left Gigi with a sense of achievement as ‘her story’ will not be forgotten and she is still contributing to the learning of others within her community. She later received a card from the school thanking her for her contribution which included a note from each child explaining how much they had enjoyed listening to her story and what it meant to them.