In 2015 Elisabeth Carney Haworth OBE was the Head of Torpoint Nursery and Infant School when she and her husband David had a light bulb moment about children enriching their reading experience by sharing a story over the telephone with an older member of the local community. They knew that this would also support the emotional well-being of the older person.
Dame Esther Rantzen DBE visited the school and helped them launch Silver Stories.
Silver Stories became a registered charity, with a Board of Trustees and began to fund-raise.
Covid struck, schools closed, and Silver Stories had to find other ways to support children’s literacy by encouraging them to read to the older people who loved listening to them.
The scheme moved from its previous format of being school and local community base, to linking individual Silver Listeners to individual Silver Readers both of whom had made contact directly through the website.
David and Elisabeth were appointed ‘Points of Light’ by the Prime Minister for their creation of Silver Stories and how they had adapted the scheme to support older people and young readers during the pandemic.
A company called Alertacall decided to support Silver Stories, because they provide reassurance calls for isolated older people. Alertacall have provided a part time member of staff to work as the Silver Stories Co-ordinator, who supports the CEO in recruiting and matching Silver Listeners and Silver Readers.
By January 2021 there were 149 Silver Listeners matched to Silver Readers, many matches were community based, with 11 schools being part of Silver Stories.
Dr Raj Persaud’s book ‘The Mental Vaccine for Covid 19’ was published with half of the royalties being donated to Silver Stories. Other individual and corporate sponsors came on board.
Silver Stories is being independently evaluated by Exeter University.
Elisabeth, David and the Trustees are planning to ‘relaunch’ Silver Stories as by then schools will be fully open and more able to participate in Silver Stories.
Silver Stories is planning a nationwide launch.