"There is a loneliness epidemic in this country and bringing generations together has been proven to have a powerful effect on tackling it. We wanted to put this to the test in the Wirral."
Alejandra Hernandez, Area Manager at Alpha
Wirral’s young ‘digital natives’ have been spending time with residents of a local sheltered housing development to teach them how to use smartphones and tablets as part of a new initiative to bring older and younger generations together.
The idea came during a discussion between Alpha Living and Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, both of whom wanted to try and break down barriers between generations, tackle loneliness and boost health and wellbeing for young people and older sheltered housing residents.
They approached Wirral Met, who were keen to support the proposal and arranged for a group of students aged from 16 – 17 to spend the afternoon with older residents from Alpha’s Manor House sheltered scheme in Bromborough. It was also supported by the HIVE Wirral Youth Zone and Wirral’s Older People's Parliament.
The students helped the sheltered housing residents get to grips with technology including iPads, Skype and smart phones. It was such a success, that Alpha and Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust now plan to roll out similar events across the Borough.
Alejandra Hernandez, Area Manager at Alpha, said: “The room was buzzing during our intergenerational event and it was great to see how much people of all ages were getting out of it.
“There is a loneliness epidemic in this country and bringing generations together has been proven to have a powerful effect on tackling it. We wanted to put this to the test in the Wirral and it’s been even more successful than we could have hoped.
“Every single attendee rated the session as ‘good’ with many saying it was excellent. Our residents have been learning about how to access technology, how to speak to loved ones via video calls and how to access information from iPads and many of them have told us how much it boosted their confidence. “
Jo Chwalko, Integrated Children’s Divisional Manager at Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust said: “It was fantastic to see how much the young people got out of the event too. If they don’t have older relatives, many young people don’t interact with older generations. As they started to build relationships and share knowledge and information there was a real sense of pride and compassion, and the young people soon started to realise that the housing residents have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share too!”
Sue Higginson, Principal and CEO of Wirral Metropolitan College said: “I am incredibly proud of our students from the Health and Social Care Department at Wirral Met College. The students fully engaged and enjoyed sharing their IT skills, with the residents at Alpha Living, for the Intergenerational Project.”
The students are now all looking forward to the next event where the residents will be hosting an intergenerational Bingo session. Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust and Alpha hope that the wider community will also get involved in future events, helping to break down intergenerational barriers and decrease loneliness on a wider scale.