Winner of GWT's Local Network Coordinator Award

Kate – “First of all, congratulations on winning the award. What was your reaction?”

Louisa – “Thank you. My initial reaction was shock. I feel humbled at being awarded this prestigious award.”

Kate –“Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what did you do before volunteering for GWT?”

Louisa – “I have been employed as a part-time development worker in Kirkcaldy in Fife, for the last two years. Working with the Open Door Project with Bennochy Church of Scotland. With spare time on my hands, I had my radar on for something new, exciting and challenging. Prior to that, I have been in post in various positions, with Fife Council and NHS Fife.”

Kate -’‘How did you find out about Generations Working Together? Have you been involved in any coordinating or volunteering before?’‘

Louisa – “I had recently started a new post as development worker and was trying to engage with as many individuals and organisations as I could. During one networking meeting with Fife Forum, I was introduced to Generations Working Together. I researched the organisations website and was most impressed with the intergenerational projects which were portrayed. Intrigued, I registered to attend the next Fife Network meeting. I have volunteered all my life from the age of nine, shopping for residents in a sheltered housing complex, getting their ‘messages’ which included cigarettes and whiskey. It was a different era! I volunteered in youth organisations and in church groups as well as the local gala, along with setting up toddler groups. Volunteering in schools and self-help groups. Always taking on a role of responsibility, which has honed my organisational skills over the years. I have mixed with all generations, and have seen the benefits of intergenerational groupings. That was why I was so excited to learn that there was a body which had intergenerational interactions at its heart and is dedicated to spreading the news about the benefits of such interactions.”

Kate – ‘‘Are you from Fife?

Louisa – “I am indeed a Fifer. Born and now back living in Dunfermline. I have had spells of staying in West Lothian, Zambia and England.”

Kate – ‘‘Your nomination says that you have transformed the Fife network since you joined, can you tell us how this happened and what the network was like when you joined?”

Louisa – “When I joined the Fife Network, the coordinator had just emigrated to America and I was unaware of what the Network was like prior to me joining. Blindly, but enthusiastically I entered my role, attending an intergenerational training course and a network coordinator’s meeting. These experiences gave me fire in my belly to spread the word. This was helped by the Channel 4 programme, ‘Older People’s Homes for Four Year Olds’ which had recently been aired. Using the programme as my introduction and recently employed in my development worker’s role, I ventured out into the community making connections with an array of public and third sector organisations and individuals. Through the connections, I was encouraging others to take a look at the GWT website and see for themselves, how the organisation can support intergenerational work. The ripple effect began as people started contacting me to be signposted to other organisations, who were interested in linking up to deliver an intergenerational project. I have been privileged to represent Generations Working Together and to have been invited to talk at different conferences and workshops. Thus spreading the word to an even wider audience. Since joining Generations Working Together, I am bursting with enthusiasm for its ethos and for the small team behind the scenes. They do a remarkable job in delivering such a professional charity, with clear up to date information and who are very supportive of intergenerational projects and networks. across Scotland.”

Kate – ‘‘How often does your GWT network meet up?’‘

Louisa – “The Fife Network meets three times a year, in different parts of Fife, hopefully giving people the opportunity to attend near their place of work or home. I have a degree of flexibility in the hours I work which gives me free time to meet with individuals across Fife, to discuss projects and suggest solutions to any potential barriers which they may be facing. I love to talk, signpost and help people.”

Kate – ‘‘What has been a highlight for you in the network?’‘

Louisa – “I have had a few highlights and get excited about each connection I make. I love to hear back on the projects which are happening in Fife as connections are being made. One of the highlights was a meeting which we held in Kirkcaldy last year. More people attended than had registered with extra seating being required! The room was buzzing with conversations and bursting with 29 being present. There was a cross-section of the generations attednding along with MSP’s, Councillors, Head Teachers and older generation groups. Another highlight could be classed by working alongside the GWT team and speaking to local MP’s, MSP’s and councillors enlightening them to the benefits of intergenerational interactions in the community and what is happening on their doorstep.”

Kate – ‘‘Is there a best way to highlight local projects and have there been any challenges?’‘

Louisa – “I feel the best way to promote local projects is to talk about them to as many people as possible. People do like to hear good news stories. In Fife, we share by talking to one another making connections along the way. News of projects are shared at other forums and networks with support being offered for resolutions if there have been challenges. I always encourage people to consider undertaking intergenerational training, which Generations Working Together provide as a way to avoid future challenges when bringing different generations together.

Kate ‘‘What is the main aim of the meetings?’‘

Louisa – “The main aim of the meetings is to deliver and share news of intergenerational projects locally. Coming together to network with other like-minded individuals and groups, is seen as a key. Taking the opportunity to make important connections to create new dimensions to projects. Hearing about what is going on in other parts of Scotland, England and beyond. Transferring ideas of projects which have been successful and learning from challenges which some projects have faced.”

Kate -’‘What are the network’s plans for the future?’‘

We hope to expand the Fife Network inviting an array of diverse groups to attend meetings. Ongoing networking, informing and encouraging others, to have intergenerational working at their core and breaking down generational barriers in the workplace and community.

It would be great to see the Fife Network influence local government planning and work alongside local government to have a more integrated intergenerational Fife.

3rd May 2018