Find out how volunteers in London and Manchester are creating connections with different generations in their communities
Florence, 91, and Lauren, 31
Florence and Lauren have been meeting up since September 2019 as part of North London Cares’ Love Your Neighbour programme. Lauren works around the corner from Florence and usually pops in during her lunch break to have a chat and catch up.
Florence is a huge Arsenal fan, so their friendship got off to a good start when she discovered Lauren worked in football. Besides chatting about sport, Florence also loves to tell stories about her brushes with fame: being an extra in Fever Pitch and meeting Colin Firth, and performing ballet in her 70s at Sadler’s Wells.
Since they can’t meet up in person for their usual catch ups, they’ve started video calling one another instead. Lauren says “the current climate hasn’t impacted our friendship too much at all, which is great. Florence seems on great form at the moment. She has a new iPad and we are having fun with the funny effects that you can use on video calls.”
After their last call, Florence said “I absolutely loved that. Lauren was able to show me her house and the views from her window. I can’t wait for our call next week!”
Jeewaun joined the East London Cares community in October 2019, after the team met him at a coffee morning in Wapping, organised by local charity LinkAge Plus.
Since then, Jeewaun has attended a number of free social clubs with younger neighbours through East London Cares, from bread-making to brunch clubs to choir clubs. He also received free warm items and a small grant from East London Cares to help him stay warm, active and connected during the winter.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, East London Cares has helped Jeewaun to stay in touch with the community, despite his living alone. The team has called him every week to say hello and to see if there’s anything else he needs help with.
Young people have helped Jeewaun learn how to use Zoom so that he can join regular online social clubs. Jeewaun is joining his first club this Saturday – an hour-long seated yoga session. He said: “This is marvellous and so kind – thank you!”
Francisca (77) had attended 84 social clubs with younger and older neighbours through Manchester Cares before the charity suspended face-to-face programmes in March.
Since then, Manchester Cares has re-invented its traditional programmes to help the generations stay connected in a disconnecting time. One of its new ideas was to use Zoom for Virtual Social Clubs.
Thanks to those online gatherings, Francisca has been able enjoyed ‘cuppas and catch-ups’, a music listening party and a quiz – all from afar. Francisca said the clubs have ‘brought entertainment and joy back to my days’. Fellow attendee Anne (69) said they’ve ‘been a lifesaver’.
Manchester Cares is reaching out to more older neighbours like Anne and Francisca and helping to connect them to their younger friends – including by supporting them to up-skill and gain confidence with Zoom and with other technologies.