This project by Photofusion was designed to address the gap between young and old. Working in partnership with Lambeth Age UK at the vibrant and welcoming Vida Walsh Day Centre off Windrush Square in central Brixton, young and old set about correcting a few misconceptions. Read more here.

All words below by Photofusion.

"Old and young alike were inquisitive, full of stories and keen to break down any ‘us and them’."

Lizzy King.

In February half term 2017, Photofusion, a collective of photographers and filmmakers hosted its first ever Intergenerational project. To say it was a success is an understatement. The project was designed by Keanna Williams (aged 16) with support from Lizzy King at Photofusion and the aim was to bring old and young together and for them to get to know each other and break down a few barriers.

As Lizzy said, 'I’m not alone in admitting that the only old people I know are my grandparents'. The makeup of Lambeth might be something to do with this as it is a very young borough with only 10.9% of Lambeth’s residents over 60 according to a Lambeth Borough study in 2016. 

For Photofusion this was an eye-opening project.  It was short and simple and, 'all the better for it; we can pick this up and take it anywhere and hope to do so in the future. We really enjoyed working with the Vida Walsh Centre and Lambeth Age UK members and hope to work with them again soon'.

Lizzy writing about the project said the whole experience has smashed so many stereotypes for her and everyone who took part. Here she tells more....

Stereotype No.1 — Older people are boring

Within moments of stepping through the door at Vida Walsh, camera kits and portable studio in tow, the young photographers were quickly put in their place. The Vida Walsh members were on their feet, literally strutting their stuff. This is no place for wallflowers, and they were quick to entertain, tell stories, dance and at one point, lay themselves on the floor in poses from their life modeling days.

Stereotype No. 2 — Older people won't to have anything to do with us.

After some initial hesitation around what a group of 6 teenagers were doing in their center with a whole pile of digital cameras, the members of the Vida Walsh Centre quickly got involved and worked in small groups led by a young person who taught everyone how to use the digital camera equipment. Old and young alike were inquisitive, full of stories and keen to break down any ‘us and them’.'

Stereotype No, 3 — Older people wont take good photos

This was a valid concern; we were using top of the range kit, radio transmitted flashguns, light meters, and cameras with view finders. The young people found ways round this and worked well to genuinely involve the Vida Walsh members in the workshops. Tripods were set up to support those with mobility issues, ‘live view’ was allowed for older people, so that they didn’t have to squint through the viewfinder, and camera instruction was taken right back to basics. It was a useful exercise for the young people, who had to adapt their communication style. They needed to explain things like how to lightly press the shutter release to focus, before fully pressing to get the shot. The results were great and can all be seen in the accompanying digital exhibition.'

Stereotype no.  — Young people don't have time for the old

This week, 6 young people aged 14 – 18 spent 5 days of their half term holiday working on this project. Instead of hanging around with friends, catching up on sleep, partying or even doing schoolwork, they dedicated their time to getting to know the older members of their community. They took a lot from it too; each young person will receive an Arts Award, young people had expert photography tuition and they actually enjoyed chatting with the Vida Walsh Centre users.'

The project was fast and furious and held over 5 days where so much energy was created and so many things achieved: the younger photographers receiving awards and so many wonderful portraits taken and so many fabulous friendships developed between the generations. Photofusion have developed the learnings from the event and are keen to take it elsewhere. Every council should get in contact with them. This is such a great example of what magic happens when you bring different generations together

You can contact Photofusion here

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