Students and elderly care home residents forge friendships to tackle loneliness at Christmas

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
Students in Sheffield forged friendships with local elderly care home residents to raise awareness around mental health - and tackle loneliness at Christmas (STUDENT.COM)

A new charity initiative saw students in Sheffield forging friendships with local elderly care home residents to raise awareness around mental health - and tackle loneliness at Christmas.

Together - created in part as a response to 70 percent of students feeling lonely whilst at university - provided an opportunity for students and care home residents in local communities to create bonds ahead of the festive season.

Dimitris Boufidis brought joy to 90-year-old Mable at the Sheffield care home (STUDENT.COM)
Margaret made new friends during the initiative, which will roll out to major cities across the UK in 2020 (STUDENT.COM)

The event also addressed recent research by Age UK, that found more than 1.7 million older people go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. 

The scheme also encourages healthy wellbeing by helping both age groups build a network outside of their accommodation. 

Cheng-Hisang Wang and MeiRu Chang laugh and share jokes with Margaret (STUDENT.COM)

A tea party was held in Sheffield for care home residents - aged between 80 and 102-years-old - and students on November 25.

During the event, both age groups shared favourite family and friendship memories, as well as discussing the latest news - and even shared dating advice.

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Together will help connect communities across the nation at is launches nationwide in 2020 in cities such as Liverpool, Swansea, Birmingham and Edinburgh following the Sheffield launch.

Dan Baker, General Manager at Student.com, said: “It’s really encouraging to see the interest by students in the Together initiative. It shows that students are keen to become part of their local community whilst at university, especially if they are coming from another city or country to study, to help their sense of belonging.

Patrick, aged 86, made new friends during the tea party (STUDENT.COM)
Patrick and student Anna stories enjoyed an afternoon swapping stories and anecdotes (STUDENT.COM)

“Headlines this year within the higher education sector have been dominated around student mental health and loneliness, and that will continue as the industry looks to find solutions to help students feel at home - wherever they choose to study.

“We are delighted that we are able to take Together nationwide, and look forward to hearing first-hand of the benefits experienced by care home residents and students as we continue the Together journey.”

(STUDENT.COM)

In an online poll earlier this month, mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) found that 41 percent of people experience feelings of loneliness around Christmas.

A further 46 percent said they feel left out of bigger social events during the festive period.

And nearly 49 percent of Twitter users said they felt pressured to have fun during the festive period, leading to enhanced feelings of loneliness and anxiousness.

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