Bridging the generation gap to ease loneliness during Covid-19 crisis

Young and old are joining forces to help ease the plight of the elderly and vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Sonja Astbury
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 2:00 pm
UCLan and Age UK are working together to help older people combat loneliness and isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic.
UCLan and Age UK are working together to help older people combat loneliness and isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic.

University staff and students teamed up with Age UK create online digital programmes to help elderly and vulnerable people cope with loneliness and isolation.

Both students and staff in the Creative Innovations Zone at the University of Central Lancashire have been working with the charity to create online tools to help elderly residents keep in touch with both loved ones plus support and care staff while the pandemic continues.

They are working on the project with the charity in Stockport, with both journalism and sociology students involved in the initiative.

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Emma Speed, director of the CIZ, said: "In this current unprecedented time of quarantine, social distancing and remote working, all of us are going to feel the effects of isolation and loneliness but none more than elderly and vulnerable people living on their own.

"Loneliness can be a huge issue for older people during normal conditions, particularly if they live alone. With the present restrictions on movement the chances of loneliness, isolation and depression affecting them is that much greater.

"We are very pleased that we now have a chance to tackle the problem head on, just when help is most needed."

The sort of things they are looking into include developing new online tools to help older residents to communicate more easily with both family members and care and support staff while they are not with them.

Emma added: "This partnership with Age UK is a fantastic example of how bringing together students from different courses and disciplines provides new ways of thinking about very real social problems like isolation and loneliness.

"These issues are a continuous challenge for an organisation like Age UK and the people who rely on their support, especially now."

Lee Speed, operations manager for Age UK Stockport, has said: "Using this time to work remotely with the Creative Innovation Zone and i-Lab at UCLan to find new ways to help those who are isolated will help us forward plan and is very timely.

"We can learn a lot from the current situation. Helping those whose mental health may begin to decline through loneliness is vital, and this unique initiative will help us put in place new ways of engaging with services, as well as socially. "