Alfie became one of the first Sweet Readers in the whole of Europe! Alfie was selected by the Alleyn’s School as one of six form 7 students to participate in the first international Sweet Readers pilot in June of 2016. At the time, Alfie was struggling a bit in school and feeling unsure of his place in the world. All of that changed after Alfie spent time with Anita.
Anita came into our pilot full of fear. It was unclear if she had any speaking capacity and it appeared that she might not even be able to smile. But then Anita met Alfie. Even in the first session Anita became visibly calm as Alfie leaned in, listened to Anita and demonstrated remarkable empathy and care. By the end of the pilot Anita was smiling and full of joy and so was Alfie.
Alfie inspired everyone in the room – his peers, our team of goodwill Ambassadors and his teachers. Natalie. one of Alfie’s teachers and our Sweet Readers Liaison at Alleyn’s reflected on that first experience at Castlebar Care Home:
Indeed, on week one of the programme, I was unsure about whether we could do this – a whole host of problems occurred that were difficult to manage and, as secondary teachers, we were very much ‘out of our comfort zone’. Yet I shouldn’t have been worried. As I looked over at one of our young Sweet Readers, Alfie, aged 11, and witnessed him simply put his hand over his elderly partner’s saying ‘it’s ok, I’m so looking forward to getting to know you’ and seeing the calming effect on Anita, aged 85, I thought ‘Wow – I can learn so much from our youngsters’…and this is indeed powerful learning that goes so far beyond a classroom.” – SR Liaison Natalie
When we returned to London in the fall of 2016 to train the next set of Sweet Readers, Alfie arrived early and prepared and proceeded to serve as an inspiring leader for all of the soon to be Sweet Readers in the next form. We learned that Alfie, after his experience with Anita, had developed a keen interest in becoming a social worker. We know Alfie will not only see older adults through a new lens, he will continue to inspire others to follow his lead. And thanks to Alfie, there’s a very good chance the world will have more empathic and effective providers of care!
Thank you Alfie!