By Lucy Gollogly
The event was hosted in a marquee in the Gasyard Centre’s garden, with people of all ages getting in on the action.
Stu Plant from Include Youth, who helped organise the joint project, said: “The night was a huge success. The older guests felt like they had travelled back in time to their youth, while the young people from our Give and Take employability scheme acted with great commitment and maturity. They taught each other how to dance, chatted and generally had a lovely evening together.
“Dove House is one of a number of organisations in Derry offering young people on our scheme hands-on work experience as part of our year long Blow Your Socks Off employability campaign.
“Before helping out on the night, volunteers Stephanie Crumlish and Aoife O’Hagan met with the staff at Dove House to establish roles and responsibilities but also to learn more about the good work that goes on there.
“They got a real insight into what it takes to set up an event like this and what it is like to work with older people. Despite the age gap, the young people quickly realised that even though the dance moves and music taste might be different, the experiences and stories they shared had a lot in common.
“We hope it is the start of many more joint projects to come.”
Volunteer Stephanie said: “The experience of mixing with older people and listening to their stories was really enjoyable.”
Aoife added: “Volunteering at this was a great experience and something I would never have done otherwise. I feel more confident when it comes to meeting new people and talking about things to people that I wouldn’t normally meet. I liked the responsibility that came with helping out at this event, but mostly I liked helping the older people just have a good time.”
Manus McCallion, who was Stephanie’s dancing partner, said: “It was a great evening spent mixing with old friends and a wonderful experience to meet Stephanie and teach her some dance moves.”
Another of the older people enjoying the craic was Moya Colhoun. “I had a brilliant night and would love to have more older-young people programmes in the area. We’re always hearing that young people need to have more respect for their elders, but I think it works two ways. There are some great kids around like the ones I met tonight, who all have interesting stories and are trying their best,” she said.
Maureen Collins from Dove House Community Trust said: “We offer a range of projects to support people from the age of 0 to 90 and beyond. We emphasise intergenerational work as we believe that bringing young and older people together to share positive and wonderful life experiences allows us to challenge the negative thoughts sometimes held by each about the other. This dance was yet another successful effort at this.
“We would like to thank Stu, Aoife and Stephanie for their contribution on the night and look forward to the next event with them.”