Award-winning charity, Adopt a Grandparent, is encouraging care home residents across the UK to come forward and get paired with the thousands of willing volunteers already on the charity’s books – as it continues its drive to tackle loneliness among the elderly.
Since the launch of Adopt a Grandparent in 2020, more than 90,000 volunteers have signed up looking to strike up a rewarding intergenerational friendship.
Established to tackle loneliness among care home residents during lockdown restrictions, the Adopt a Grandparent charity has since expanded to focus on enabling and supporting intergenerational relationships for all reasons.
However, with loneliness charity, Marmalade, listing bereavement and the loss of friends as a key loneliness indicator for those over 60, and with those over 80 facing diminishing social and community networks, the drive to tackle the issue in older generations is still a central tenet of the scheme.
On the charity’s ‘wanted’ call for grandparents, founder, Shaleeza Hasham, said: “The response to our call for volunteers to adopt ‘grandparents’ was absolutely incredible and enormously heartwarming. Now though, we are seeing a shift where we have considerably more younger volunteers than we do grandparents. We’d love to help build more intergenerational friendships – so we’re putting out a call for interested older parties to sign up too.
“Our young volunteers range from school children to working professionals and their interests are so wide ranging that we can be sure to match our older volunteers with someone who will have plenty to talk to them about.”
Demonstrating the success of Adopt a Grandparent’s pairing process in matching interests, grandparent Robin, a former engineer with an interest in the Far East and a current resident at a care home in Surrey, was recently paired with Tiffany Lim, after he requested a Japanese speaking chess player.
While hailing from the UK, his ‘adopter’ Tiffany currently resides in Tokyo, Japan. Her chess skills may have been a little rusty, but Robin has thoroughly enjoyed helping her improve while hearing all about her work in advertising and life in Tokyo. “I look forward to talking with Tiffany, enormously,” says Robin. “She tells me all about the technology in Japan which sounds unbelievable sometimes.
“I can’t see very well so she will describe the view of the city for me and has shown me over our video calls too. Tiffany is so nice and she really listens to me. Our calls make me feel less lonely and really brighten up my day.”
Shaleeza adds: “Loneliness is something that can affect us all, at any age. The magic of Adopt a Grandparent is that generations can all support each other. Not all of our volunteers are lonely, some are just excited to expand their social circle, and the positive benefits of making new friends and sharing in a wealth of unique life experiences can be felt by all, no matter why they sign up. But there is something so rewarding about knowing we are doing something positive for those in the UK who may feel lonely, whether old or young.”