Merlin Betts interviewed Lisa Chester-Linskey of Littlish Allsorts, a weekly session held in residential homes that builds relationships between toddlers and the elderly

Lisa Chester-Linskey runs Baby Sing, Sign and Sensory, a series of classes for babies-2year olds that teach communication before speech, using sign language. She recognised that life can become quite lonely for parents, especially lone carers for the very young. Her classes help parents to “talk” to their children, and offer opportunities for parents to socialise with each other. She runs the classes at the Friends Meeting House, South Terrace and St Clements Church, High Street Hastings. 

One parent commented “Lisa and her classes are just brilliant. She has so much energy and enthusiasm. It is the only one out of all the groups/ classes that I go to, that no matter how bad I am feeling that morning I always come out happy afterwards. Lisa offers us so much more than signing (which she is brilliant at by the way) and she is a ray of sunshine to all of us Mums, Dads and babies alike!” 

But Lisa has gone one step further, taking Littlish Allsorts to local care homes. She has seen people living with dementia and alzheimers come alive at the sight of the young children, singing and playing, and, as these elderly people often look back to their youth, even becoming more child-like, they’ve been able to enjoy their time with the children as friends or buddies rather than feeling like boring elderly residents of a home. 

For Lisa, the wonder of seeing someone in their late 90s or even 100s hold a young baby, and instinctively treat it with care, is really what drives her to keep running the sessions. Even characteristically aggressive or unhelpful residents have steadily come to accept and enjoy the sessions as a welcome part of their week. Once where many elderly residents in the homes would sit quietly in front of a television, now they can come to life, playing with and caring for new generations. 

Staff at Cedarwood House care home said it’s “so lovely to have something so interactive which everyone can be part of regardless of their mood or ability”, while Grosvenor House left another glowing review of Lisa’s character, saying “we love having Lisa coming in every month, because it brings a bit of sunshine to the home”.

• For more information about Lisa’s groups and to see which homes Littlish Allsorts will be visiting go to her Facebook page and call 07900 911119 or 01424 721589 to book classes.

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