A Time to Say Thanks

As part of #VolunteersWeek Generations Working Together want to talk about the importance of intergenerational work and to say thank you to all the intergenerational volunteers making a difference to people’s lives. Firstly, during 2020 – 21 lots of older people became isolated at home with little access to the groups they were involved with, reduced support and some with limited or no opportunities to do their usual volunteering. Young people can really make a difference to older generations in so many small ways and vice versa, but these relationships became separated with the onset of the pandemic. Despite Covid-19 and its impact, many looked to adapt and try to keep intergenerational relationships nurtured.

Intergenerational volunteering does involve both groups, young and old, offering their time to work together, to learn through and from each other, to enjoy each other’s company and to find ways to connect, so new creative thinking helped develop new and established connections. At the heart of many of these innovations were wonderful people who knew other wonderful people who could support the work.

Many activities that volunteers take part in improve fitness and mobility – mentally and physically. They may be encouraging with crafting, cooking, getting from one place to another, gardening, walking, dancing, playing games, cycling or following set exercises – through having fun and the volunteer’s time, so much can be accomplished and enjoyed. It is amazing to see the difference that intergenerational volunteering can make.

Both older and younger people enjoy meeting each other to talk and share stories. So much can be learnt about everything from local history and cultures to new developments, in our ever-changing world. Some may be motivated to join in activities such as knitting, chess, bicycle repairs, playing instruments together or upcycling and DIY groups. Many enjoy talking about our environment and share points of view and determination to make a difference in their communities. The scope for volunteering is vast.

Sadly, many older people lose touch with social networks when they retire, lose a loved one with family scattering to new locations and find themselves living alone, which leads to even greater isolation. Research has shown that some older people may not meet anyone for weeks. Similarly, young parents may move to a new area, lose contact with friends and colleagues and struggle to settle into new communities, feeling very alone and struggling with a baby or young children; hard at any time, but in the throws of Covid-19 restrictions, many more have struggled. The pandemic has made life harder for almost everyone, yet volunteers have risen to the fore more than ever – and so many have had the focus of connecting as many people as possible in local communities.

Connecting across generations is keeping intergenerational relationships alive….

…especially with Covid-19 stopping us all from being in touch, and connecting across generations, more normally. People have shown us that they want to stay connected and throughout 2020 -21 we have seen many organisations and volunteers working to bring younger and older people together through sharing virtual tea parties, cooking, growing, and sharing food through a variety of ways. Perhaps you have made links through gardening, sharing recipes online or having a cook-a-long session, perhaps enjoying some music together and ‘sharing a cuppa’ whilst having a blether together.

We have seen a rise in virtual connectedness and examples such as Bertha Park High School in Perth, where the young pupils worked together to create a radio show that was be shared with older people living in care homes. Other heart-warming examples have been shared through our partnership working with the Soil Association’s Sharing Food for Life Get Togethers and the Eden Project’s The Big Lunch

Technology is ever more present during this past year, with most of the population connecting digitally, to communicate across a diverse range of needs, everything from first look at a grandchild, to family quizzes, collaborating with work colleagues, taking part in training or just meeting with people with shared interests. Whilst technology has its benefits, we found that many older generations were not quite ready to embrace it at the beginning of 2020, but as the year progressed we have seen a rise in intergenerational relationships being formed on line via social media, Zoom, Skype, Google or Microsoft teams. So many different platforms, but this itself has been an area many have volunteered in – making sure that devices could be used well – and lovely connections could be made.

Whatever and whenever your introduction to volunteering has been, we know you make a difference. You touch lives and make good things happen. Intergenerational work is about us living our best lives and so, all at Generations Working Together acknowledge the amazing volunteers in our midst, central to so much good practice and we applaud you all with the biggest cheers imaginable.


How to get Involved

We would like your help to make GWT’s VOLUNTEERSWEEK bring smiles to faces.
We promise we aren’t asking for any fancy IT skills, but if you could record yourself as a very short video, we think that would be ideal for sharing on social media too – to help us promote the work of intergenerational volunteering and the wonderful people who engage in it. Both formats welcomed.

Save the date
On Monday 7th June we will round everything off with our bIG volunteer lunch – and we would be delighted for you to join us then too Book your place here