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Wanted: Charity Initiative Seeks ‘Grandparents’ for Its Almost 100,000 Volunteers to Adopt as It Celebrates Three Years of Intergenerational Friendships

It’s been three years since the UK entered lockdown amid the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic and since charity ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ began digitally pairing care home residents with volunteers to help combat loneliness and encourage meaningful, intergenerational friendships.

To mark National Day of Reflection today (March 23rd), the award-winning charity is looking back at some of the highlights from its first three years and celebrating the amazing ‘adoptive’ relationships formed across the world.

A volley of volunteers

The call for ‘virtual volunteers’ was met with an astonishing response, with 72,000 people signing up within 3 weeks from all over the world including from the US, Canada, Dubai, New Zealand and more.

Starting life as an initiative within one care home group, it’s here that Adopt a Grandparent began looking for other care homes to take part, with far more volunteers than they could possibly pair up. It also started on the path to become a fully independent charity.

Star-studded support

The charity saw worldwide attention once Hollywood star, Ruby Rose, signed-up to ‘adopt’ her very own grandparent. Becoming a valuable spokesperson, Ruby talked about her decision to volunteer and her adopted grandparent with American news outlet NBC: “My grandparent is Iris and she’s amazing – I speak to her every week. It’s a fantastic initiative and it’s really simple. I get as much out of the relationship as I was hoping I would bring to Iris.”

With interest from journalists across the UK and leading magazines such as Vogue and Shape, it became clear that the initiative could really help people of all ages make meaningful connections and intergenerational friendships.

Charity Status

Adopt a Grandparent became an official, independent charity in 2022, and has gone on to sign-up almost 100,000 volunteers. Appointing Andy Doherty as Director of Fundraising in February 2023, the charity is now on a major fundraising drive in order to help develop its app in support of bringing more care homes on board to match more older people with its growing ranks of ‘adopters’.

The charity’s founder, Shaleeza Hasham, comments: “It’s been an incredible three years for Adopt a Grandparent. The initial response amid the pandemic and the extraordinary circumstances of lockdowns was truly heart-warming. Knowing that an idea which started as something to help residents in our family-run care homes had the power to help and connect so many was an unforgettable moment.

“We are still in the unique position that we have far more volunteers than older people to pair them with. So, our next major focus will be working within communities to help older people access the initiative, establishing Community Champions to share digital skills so that they can get the most from being ‘adopted’.

“I grew up on the grounds of a care home and know first-hand the amazing impact that intergenerational relationships and friendships can have on both parties. I had a number of ‘adopted grandparents’ and those people helped to shape and support me and share in my successes as I grew, which is why the charity means so much to me.”

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of intergenerational relationships are widely acknowledged, with studies showing that these types of relationships are mutually beneficial. Children who participate in activities with older adults tend to have better reading abilities, communication and problem-solving skills, and a more positive attitude toward community service. For seniors who interact with children and younger adults, studies show that they tend to burn more calories, experience fewer falls and perform better on memory tests than their peers. Additionally, older adults with dementia and other cognitive impairments experience more positive effects during interactions with children than they do during other types of activities.

Shaleeza continues: “If you work in a care home with residents who you think may benefit from a new friendship, have an older loved one who you think would like to be involved, or would like to become a Community Champion, please do get in touch by emailing Michelle Husserl at michelle@adoptagrandparent.org.uk.”

Those who wish to sign up as a volunteer can do so by visiting the website or downloading the free app, which is available through Apple’s App Store and Google Play. They can also donate to the charity’s GoFundMe page.

For more information about Adopt a Grandparent, visit www.adoptagrandparent.org.uk/.

 

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