Health and well-being blossoms across generations at Willow Brook

Young gardeners have been springing into action planting seeds and singing songs, bringing smiles to the faces of older residents at Riverside’s extra care scheme near Sunderland.

Little Onions at Willow Brook

To mark Intergenerational Week (March 8 to 14), the relationship continues to blossom between the Little Onions Club, which provides gardening activities and workshops to engage children and elderly residents at Riverside’s Willow Brook in Washington.

On March 20, one of the Little Onions Eva is raising money to buy Easter Eggs in her community by doing laps in her wheelchair of the Willow Brook garden.

Throughout lockdown and abiding by social distancing safety requirements, the Little Onions have supported customers by making banners, planting sunflower seeds in Willow Brook’s ‘Bed of Hope’ and sending care packs to the scheme managers.

Little Onions at Willow Brook

Intergenerational working at Willow Brook brings young and old together in meaningful ways and promotes greater understanding and respect between generations.

The Little Onions have also written letters and knitted fiddle blankets for customers with dementia, as well as painting rainbow pictures which has had a positive impact on the health and well-being of customers.

As communities emerge from lockdown restrictions across the country, the youth gardening programme plans to use Willow Brook’s garden as their permanent home, following a donation of an outdoor potting shed.

Kayleigh Dyer who lives at Willow Brook said: “I absolutely love the Little Onions, from their waving through the windows to their smiles. It feels like we have not been forgotten and they have really lifted our spirits.”

Little Onions at Willow Brook

Caroline Adams, Riverside’s Care Manager at Willow Brook, added: “We have been totally overwhelmed by The Little Onions who have thought of our customers and made a massive difference to us at Willow Brook.

“With our communal areas being closed during lockdown, we’ve had to look at alternative ways to support residents to tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness they may have had during lockdown and the Little Onions have really helped us with that.

“We’ve seen a huge improvement in the health and well-being of our customers who engage with The Little Onions, especially those with dementia.”

Little Onions at Willow Brook

Willow Brook has more than 100 residents and was opened by Riverside in 2016. It is made up of 79 apartments, which are one and two bedroom, including retirement living, for people with and without care needs who want to live independently.

To find out more about Riverside’s Retirement Living services visit: