Silver Stories

1392. Elisabeth Carney-Haworth
1393. David Carney-Haworth

Elisabeth and David Carney-Haworth, from Cornwall, are the founders of Silver Stories, bridging the intergenerational gap and tackling loneliness, helping children learn to read by reading to the elderly.

Elisabeth and David Carney-Haworth

Elisabeth, a primary school headteacher, and David, were inspired by the idea of helping children to become more confident in their reading skills whilst simultaneously connecting them with the elderly community and helping them to feel less isolated. Children, known as Silver Readers, phone a Silver Listener, and then read a short story or poem to them. During the coronavirus pandemic, the scheme has gained huge nationwide popularity and expanded beyond the South West.

In a personal letter to Elisabeth and David, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“I was so enthralled to hear about the brilliance of your Silver Stories initiative.

“The idea of primary school children or “silver readers” telephoning elderly “silver listeners” and reading them a poem or a short story is an ingenious way of combining literacy education with the positive engagement of elderly people.

“At a time when the necessary shielding of many of our elderly has weighed deeply on our national consciousness, I am filled with admiration for your bridging of the intergenerational divide, tackling loneliness and isolation in a safe way.

“So I am delighted to recognise you as the UK’s 1392nd and 1393rd Points of Light and I wish you every possible success as you continue to expand your programme.”

Elisabeth said:

“We are thrilled to be recognised in this way for Silver Stories because we understand the simplicity of the scheme and the magic that is created between the generations. During the period of ‘lockdown’ it became even more apparent that there were so many elderly people who had been left feeling very isolated and lonely, and there were many children at home needing to continue with their reading and also needing purpose in their week. Silver Stories reached and reacted to the needs of both parties and fantastic relationships have already begun to grow. As schools return we hope that many more of them will become involved and enable their children and their community to participate in Silver Stories. This is wonderful, thank you.”

David said:

“The importance of this recognition can be summed up in the words of Silver Listener 89-year-old Betty: ‘It really is the highlight of my week because I don’t see anyone now, there’s no-one to give you a hug or anything, so these little voices make up for that’. It is a great pleasure for me that Silver Stories is being recognised in this way.”

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