Hackney project connects older and younger Londoners during coronavirus pandemic

A Hackney Social enterprise is bringing older and younger Londoners together to learn and share stor

A Hackney Social enterprise is bringing older and younger Londoners together to learn and share stories remotely.Picture: InCommon - Credit: InCommon

A Hackney-based social enterprise is connecting older and younger generations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Older Londoners are being recruited by social enterprise InCommon to teach children about life in the recent past from the safety of their own homes.

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Co-founder Laura Macartney says: “Older people have so much to offer in the way of knowledge, experience, energy, and compassion.

“It’s really important that they have the opportunity to continue to contribute to our communities at this time.

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“And we’ve found that the programme yields mutual benefit. Our older volunteers have faced increased loneliness and isolation while shielding, so their calls with local children have given them structure and company.”

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Throughout the lockdown, InCommon has matched people in retirement homes with children from local primary schools to take part in the remote learning.

Retirees in their 80s have shared stories of rationing, morse code and VE day while children participating in the project have tutored them on the video app Tik Tok, skipping and den-building.

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The Buddies programme is delivered online or over the phone.

Prior to the pandemic, InCommon took groups of primary school children into retirement homes where they ran regular workshops so, its online and over the phone programme has allowed “buddies” to keep in touch.

One older volunteer called Pat said: “It helps you to feel useful again. When you’re an elderly person you spend a lot of time on your own, especially now.

“Speaking to children makes you think differently, like you can be of help. It lifts you for a while.”

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This summer, InCommon will publish an anthology of short stories that their Buddies have co-written during their lockdown calls.

They have also made all Buddies activities available for free to any older people looking for new ways to keep in touch with grandchildren and younger friends from a distance.

For more information visit www.incommonliving.com/

To become a volunteer click here

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