Keeping connected through lockdown

14th December 2020

The Powsowdie project is one of many community activities, run by Heron Corn Mill, near Kendal, which is helping to bring its rural communities together.

Powsowdie is aimed at older people in the community, combining food and music with free lunchtime sessions of fun and reminiscence. Each Powsowdie has its own unique theme, with a hearty and nutritious lunch provided. There is music to aid relaxation to accompany the food, activities and an opportunity to share stories.

Normally this group would meet at Heron Corn Mill at Beetham but due to lockdown restrictions, the charity had to adapt to ensure isolated elderly or disabled people continued to receive support.

With the support of £4,963 from the Pappagallino Fund, the project was creatively combined into a box, which was delivered each month, containing delicious cooked foods, a CD of music and poems, activities, a newsletter, interesting resources for reminiscence, and even a stamp and paper to gather memories and responses.

Volunteers have regular telephone contact with elderly members and have an hourly call before each box is sent.  One of the highlights during the COVID-19 pandemic was its intergenerational work through letter-writing between the elderly and the younger children in the community. Older people who received the boxes were encouraged to write and share their memories evoked by the materials they received in the Powsowdie box. Younger members of the Mill Hoppers Youth Group replied to letters and good friendships are now being formed with some becoming pen-pals.

One recipient said: “I so enjoyed the lovely box you sent. Thank you for this wonderful thing you are doing, the theme is friendship, and this is just what you offer us, at a time when many of us are feeling so lonely.”

Creative Project Manager, Audrey Steeley, said: “We aim to continue with our boxed deliveries until we can meet in person in the barn at Heron Corn Mill. It has spurred us on to consider the other benefits, such as the intergenerational pen pals, which we did not expect to happen, and the fact that many of the elderly receiving the boxes have found, in writing back to us, that they enjoy writing, and the possibility of a creative writers group for the elderly is being discussed.”

This project is just one of eight that are designed for its different community groups. The projects have been developed from local need and include the use of Heron Corn Mill’s stoneground flour for baking artisan breads, volunteer and research activities, textiles and arts activity and youth and children’s activities based around STEM activities.