Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside…

When we think of a day at the seaside, we visualise time spent with family and friends, warm summer sunshine, endless amounts of ice cream, fun on the pier and a fish and chip supper to finish. So what happens when a group of teenagers, together with a group of older people who have never met before, head down to Weston-Super-Mare in mid-December, for a stereotypical day at the seaside? Carry on reading to find out! 

Earlier in the year, sixteen students from Bristol City Community Trust chose to support LinkAge as part of their Social Action Project with the National Citizen Service. As part of the project, the group decided that they would support local older people in a way that would challenge some of the negative stereotypes that can exist between generations. 

The group decided that they would fundraise, plan and organise a day trip for a group of sixteen older people. The trip would be based on fun and friendships and would see them go out for the day in Weston-super-Mare. 

As part of the planning, the group knew that there would be a cost attached to the day.  So within no time the students were organising a raffle, creating a Just Giving page and on BCFM radio station. Soon they were quickly on their way to raising over £350 to cover the costs of the day, including transport and food. 

On the day of the trip, the mini bus left Ashton Gate Stadium and headed over to Redcliffe to collect the older people. On arrival, one student welcomed the group with a brief overview of the day, before the rest of the group helped to split both generations equally onto the two buses. The drive down to Weston saw conversations starting to flow between everyone and before the day had even begun, small mixed friendship groups of both generations were forming. 

On arrival to Weston, the groups made their way to a local café for a hot drink, which gave them a chance to start to get to know one another a little bit more. With coffees, teas and hot chocolates consumed, everyone then headed out into the sunshine, which was now making the day feel like the middle of the summer. Some of the groups decided to head into the town for a spot of Christmas shopping, others chose a walk around the promenade and the final group decided that they would head onto the famous Grand Pier.

The group on the pier had a lot of fun, trying to win prizes on the claw machines, getting lost in the mirror maze and letting out their competitive sides over a game of air hockey. It was great to see everyone having fun on the pier, with age not being a barrier for engagement. 

At 1:30pm, the groups decided to all meet for a tradional Fish and Chip lunch, which was not only delicious, but also a great opportunity for everyone to catch up on what they had got up to that morning. 

Vera Marks who attended on the day said, “Not only has it been a lovely day but the young people have been wonderful to spend time with. We may have only met that morning, but conversations were flowing throughout the day”

Emma, a student at Bristol City Community Trust said, “Although the day was a lot of work to plan, hearing that the older people enjoyed it made all of it worthwhile. I think we changed perspectives of what some older people may think of us, through getting to know them and listening to what they have to say.

“Ricky Bush, LinkAge’s Intergenerational Worker said, “The day was a huge success with extremely positive feedback from everyone involved. Days like this are not only about having fun, but also about keeping people active, healthy and energised, whilst encouraging communities and generations to become more connected.”