Lasting Legacy was a one-year project that was the culmination of five years of archival and oral history research into the Kibble Centre, Paisley, which coincided with its 150th anniversary in 2009. The findings were disseminated through themed booklets, a website, an exhibition at Paisley Museum, a social event at the Kibble Palace, Glasgow, press articles, presentations at conferences and two short films. It was supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and many of the outcomes were the result of the efforts of the young people from the Kibble Centre.
Kibble was formed in 1859 from a charitable bequest left by Miss Elizabeth Kibble who came from a wealthy Paisley textile family. In her will she left money to found and endow in Paisley an institution for the purpose of reforming boys who had got into trouble with the law. Although still with a focus on the education of young people, the school has been transformed. The old schoolhouse was demolished in the 1980s to make way for small campus houses and residential units. Now the Kibble Centre is one of Scotland’s largest and most thriving social enterprises, blending a strong social mission with best business practice, while strengthening community roots and involvement.
Working with young people with a complex mix of social, emotional, educational and behavioural problems, Kibble services are pioneering social enterprise to deliver high quality and sustainable services for the public good, incorporating community outreach programmes, residential care, social welfare, full secondary education, through-care and aftercare, intensive fostering and secure care.
The oral history strand of the project was the most successful in terms of intergenerational practice. Older generations participating in the project included long-serving and retired staff, ex-pupils and their descendants, and local community members. A younger participant group encompassed current staff and young people, as well as more recent ex-pupils. They all contributed memories and anecdotal evidence, which greatly enhanced and enriched the research findings from written sources. Their stories will now be preserved for future generations.
Impacts and Outcomes
For older adults:
- opportunities to engage with younger people, breaking down generational barriers and enabling them to feel more valued and respected
- giving something back to Kibble and its young people, inspiring them to overcome difficulties and strive for successful, productive lives.
This was achieved in part by engagement with young people at social events, lunches, shows performed by Kibble’s youth, and 150th anniversary events, such as the museum exhibition launch and the Kibble Palace event. The latter two events were also attended by three generations of an Australian family, direct descendants of a Kibble boy who was sent to Australia as a farm apprentice in 1913, who gave very eloquent speeches at the events.
For younger people:
- interacting with older people in informal settings, contributing to mutual understanding and respect.
- participating in events organisation and in events, as guests, helpers and speakers, improving self-esteem and confidence.
- producing two short films, based on the oral and written history, in collaboration with the Department of Creative Arts at Reid Kerr College. These were premiered at Kibble’s 2009 Summer Talent Show, attended by oral history participants and their families, as well as parents, carers, young people, staff and external residential child care professionals.
In the wider context of residential care, findings presented in the project enabled staff to learn not only from past mistakes but from successes, thereby informing policy and practice. It also has a part to play in the removal of past stigma associated with residential child care.