What older people can offer the younger generation

We have all heard stories about the older generation being lonely and suffering from health and emotional problems that prevent them from leaving their homes.

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What older people can offer the younger generation
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We have all heard stories about the older generation being lonely and suffering from health and emotional problems that prevent them from leaving their homes.

But how often do we consider that the younger generation can suffer from loneliness and a sense of isolation as well?

It's common to hear about the great life that youngsters now lead with full social lives and an abundance of friends, but that is by no means accurate in many cases.

Young people nowadays are under enormous pressure – particularly on social media – to show how great their lives are and how happy they are, but so much of this is false.

For example, many young students leave home to go to a university miles away from their friends and families. In many cases, these students find it hard to adjust to their new environment.

Many young people lose contact with their grandparents and the older generation, and they miss the contact, thoughts and wisdom they were able to share and benefit from in the past. spoke to some people who have benefited from befriending and working with older people through volunteering.

Jenny Compton left her family home in East Sussex to study contemporary art in Newcastle.

“Once I had completed my degree, I was effectively unemployed for months looking for a job, not only in Newcastle but throughout the UK – but to no avail. I found it very depressing and soul-destroying.

“So, to take up some of my time, I volunteered to work in a local care home teaching art classes once a week. It was such fun!

“In fact, I learned so much by mixing with those elderly people;  there was so much wisdom there.

“They were keen to discuss their various health and loneliness issues, but they were equally eager to listen to my problems too. Talking to my young fellow students was fine, but they simply didn’t have the life experience to be of much help.

“In the end, instead of just teaching art classes once a week, I used to go there at least three times a week just to talk to my newfound friends.”

Gillian Morris, 74, has started using The Silver Line friend service and receives a telephone call at least once a week from student Olivia Davis, 19.

Gillian had this to say:

“I live by myself and have done so for many years. It gets so lonely sometimes. I no longer work, of course, and find myself getting very bored and lonely. My husband died over 20 years ago, and I still haven’t quite got over it.

“The telephone call from Olivia is always so welcome.

“She phones at precisely the same time every week, and we usually chat for about half an hour or so – though sometimes she has so much to say it often goes on far longer! I guess in some ways I’m as much of a help to her as she is to me.”

If you feel you could benefit from speaking with a younger person – or indeed, as a younger person, would like to volunteer to speak with older people, go to The Silver Line or telephone 0800 4708090.

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