This is the story behind Year Here cover girls Doris (left) and Dyra (right). It’s an unlikely pairing: Doris is a resident at Hawthorn Green care home in Stepney while Dyra is a young professional who lives locally.
They met at a cocktail party run by Magic Me, a charity that brings young and old people together through arts projects. Run at four care homes in East London, these monthly cocktail parties bring together young adults with older care home residents for a drink and a chat.
The simple interaction between a care home resident and a young volunteer gives the older person something to look forward to, a connection to the local community and a chance to share their stories and wisdom with new faces. And building relationships across generational boundaries also enriches the lives of the young volunteers.
On her friendship with Doris, Dyra says:
She’s so fun and young at heart, we have a lot in common. We bond over boys and sharing the unfortunate tendency of forgetting how many Baileys we’ve drunk! I love her infectious energy and sparky sense of humour.
Research from the Campaign to End Loneliness shows that loneliness has a similar impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and that over 800,000 people feel lonely all or most of the time. And this is a problem that is only going to get bigger – the population over 75 is projected to double in the next 30 years (Age UK, 2012). Given the scale and gravity of isolation among older people, this kind of project is essential to meet the demands of an ageing population.
Of the care home managers that Year Here has met, very few have been able to engage volunteers – and even fewer have engaged young volunteers.
Projects like Cocktails in Care Homes, Good Gym and History Pin are creating innovative new ways to bring young and old together. But, to meet the huge and growing challenge of isolation, we’ll need a new generation of social entrepreneurs to find ways to ensure that these interactions are sustainable and scalable.
If you would like to support the Cocktails in Care Homes project, donate now to top up Annie’s sherry!