Borough care villages help research on rebuilding links between generations

The Belong facilities in Wigan and Atherton took part in work by charity Ready Generations and the University of Stirling about bringing back together grandparents and grandchildren who have been kept apart by Covid-19.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am

The research paints a clear picture of the detrimental impact of the pandemic on younger and older generations and said rebuilding relationships should be a priority as the national returns to something like normality.

Staff and residents both at the Platt Bridge village and Belong’s facility in Atherton completed an online questionnaire for the research.

In ordinary times intergenerational activities form an important part of Belong’s calendar, but during the pandemic much of this has had to be done remotely.

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Belong Atherton general manager, Rebecca Woodcock, said: “Bringing young and old people together has always been really important to Belong, and we have strong links with local schools, colleges and community groups to create a range of opportunities for meaningful intergenerational activities.

“Of course we’ve had to adapt during Covid, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve managed to keep many of these links alive through technology, including our recent virtual World Book Day event, shared with St Richard’s Primary School.

“There’s no doubt though that we are all really looking forward to the day when it will be possible to welcome young visitors back into the village.”

Many people involved in the research said that while technology such as video messaging apps has been important in retaining contact, it has not been a substitute for face-to-face interactions.

Pre-Covid, spending time outdoors was ranked among activities grandparents most enjoyed sharing with their grandchildren, closely followed by teaching life skills, such as baking.

The majority of grandparents identified with a range of support responsibilities. Nearly three quarters identified strongly with companionship accountabilities (including being a friend, story-teller and entertainer).

Grandparents most identified with being a listener.

Well over half saw themselves as providing instructional support, defined as being a mentor, disciplinarian and emotional nurture, with 75 per cent reporting taking on the roles of problem solver and wise elder.

Over half said that they gave practical support, such as financial assistance, transport and health advice.

The invaluable role of grandparents in providing childcare was also highlighted by the research, with more than a third of those surveyed providing at least one form of childcare on a regular basis pre-pandemic.

Sue Egersdorff, founder of Ready Generations, said: “The data presents a rich picture of the role grandparents play in modern family life and the unique nature of their relationship with grandchildren.

“It highlights the urgency of rekindling intergenerational connections as we emerge from the pandemic as they matter so much to both grandparents and their grandchildren.”

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