3G: finding connection across three generations brings so much meaning
Posted by The Cares Family on 4th March 2020
By Fiona Bevans
I’ve lived in north London for most of my life, but it was ironically in Vancouver that I first learned of The Cares Family which started in my own back yard in Camden and Islington.
I’d been planning to move back home for a while and was looking into volunteer opportunities when I came across North London Cares. After reading about the charity and the work it does connecting older and younger neighbours through social clubs and a Love Your Neighbour programme, I knew this was a gem of a place and something I wanted to be part of.
Fast forward two months and I was a fully inducted volunteer attending my first social club – a ceilidh in Kentish Town. Having been brought up with a big Irish family, I’ve always been keen on a song and dance so it was was a lovely introduction to The Cares Family approach. I met so many wonderful people and heard some great stories. That summer, I decided to walk 50k to fundraise for the charity – the atmosphere on the day was great and I loved every minute of it.
For me, becoming a volunteer in The Cares Family was such a wonderful way to get back involved with my community again and also to challenge my own perspectives. Before moving to Canada I’d worked for a great organisation, had a lovely group of friends but also felt quite down. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel in London. I’d grown so tired of the same commute and people looking at me like I was crazy when I stopped to ask a question. I’d always dreamed of living in North America and when the opportunity arose I took it.
It was probably the hardest decision I have made in my life. I knew it was something I wanted to do but I was terrified about what I was leaving behind. When I boarded the plane, I sat next to an older woman and, as I cried my eyes out, I had the choice of hiding under my headphones or opening up to my new friend. We talked for six hours – and it was exactly what I needed.
Those chance interactions so often lead to a more memorable story. I have never forgotten that day nor the benefit of having that chat. Although I felt alone in Vancouver at first, I eventually formed a wonderful group of friends. I loved weekly chats with my landlady who lived above me, who was retired and looking for more connection in her life now that she no longer saw her work companions every day.
When I returned from Vancouver I knew I wanted to connect with my local community even more – so when I saw that The Cares Family were planning new social clubs across three generations in two new boroughs, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I’d seen connections formed and friendships built with my own eyes – and knew I had something to offer of my own experience to help older neighbours, new parents and children under five find that connection too.
Now that I’m here, and our 3G project has started, I feel I’ve come full circle – not only back to The Cares Family but also to working with older people in my own community in north London, where I’d planned activities in care homes in my early twenties. I still remember Esther, Gwen and Ted – they’ve had a lasting impact on me.
The value in building those connections with older and younger neighbours is so worthwhile and super beneficial for your health too. I’ve felt it myself, and I can’t wait to see the difference that connections across three generations will make in Haringey and Waltham Forest over the coming months.
If you're an older person or a parent in Waltham Forest of Haringey and would like to get involved in the 3G Social Clubs, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.