Older and younger volunteers from different areas of Northern Ireland were paired for conversations about their experience of dealing with the pandemic. Discussions included challenges over the past year, positive moments in the midst of adversity, and what each participant hopes for the future beyond Covid-19.
Commenting on the joint project, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People said:
“This past year has been extremely challenging and full of uncertainly for many of us and none more so than for our children and our older people. The project highlighted a feeling of a loss of a sense of community and connectedness of people being friendly on the street and the sense of mistrust there appeared to be between people.
“Children and young people have lost out on so many of the normal childhood experiences that help them grow and develop as individuals, with interruptions to schooling and restrictions on social interaction with friends and family all impacting on their mental health and wellbeing.
“They felt the news and information they received was confusing and contradictory at times and are nervous of what their life is going to be like in future. However, they valued the time spent with people more and are looking forward to renewing their education within their school settings, being able to go outside, participate in their community and being with their friends in real time and not online.
“Thankfully with light now at the end of the tunnel there is an opportunity to build on the shared experiences of young and old, so that together we can work to strengthen links between and within our communities.”
The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said:
“I’m delighted to bring older and younger participants together to mark National Intergenerational Week. Older people were keen to take part and gave generously of their time and their views. The conversations were fantastic and the outcomes made for interesting insights.
“Some of the key findings from the project included both age groups feeling uncertainty about the future and both really missed seeing friends and family. The older people spoke with great resilience about living through troubled times and shared their experiences of hope as bad times pass and life can begin familiar patterns again. Older people spoke of learning new skills and working with technology so they can keep in contact across the generations.
“I am advising government that older people will need support moving forward, to re-integrate into society, find their freedom again, and deal with the impacts of Covid-19.
“Listening to both generations has increased my view that, as the vaccination programme increases and lockdown restrictions are eased, both our young and older people in Northern Ireland, will focus on building a new, resilient and hopeful future.”
For further information please contact the Communications Team at NICCY on 07917 544 177 or email Communications@NICCY.org
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