3G: how connecting across the generations can ground us in community
Posted by The Cares Family on 2nd March 2020
By Shula Hawes
When moving to Edinburgh for university at 18 I experienced real loneliness for the first time. I went from knowing nearly everyone in a small village to being a stranger in a new city 350 miles away, struggling to keep up academically.
I wondered if seeking people outside my bubble might help me in these challenges. I found myself volunteering for The Living Memory Association – a reminiscence organisation staffed by Miles and John, the masters of putting people at ease with a cup of tea, a joke and seemingly endless patience to listen. From then on, once a week, I spent time with people of all ages, who didn’t care about my grades, and who taught me about my new city. My confidence, and grades, bounced back.
Becoming a mum was another huge change. I suddenly realised how far away my friends lived, having never previously thought twice about traveling an hour or more to have a drink with a friend. My world shrank. I couldn’t jump on my bike with a newborn baby who needed to feed, nap and poop an unimaginable times a day.
My parents live many hours’ drive away and my partner’s parents live even further away, in Canada. Without family around, my 11-month old daughter mostly sees people either her age or mine. Living in London has given me the chance to meet more people of different cultures but, mostly, I find myself spending time with people only a handful of years younger or older than me. The old adage – it takes a village to raise a child – feels so true to me. But in London it can feel like we’re doing it alone.
My daughter’s winning gummy grin was the spark that initiated a conversation with Costa, an Italian gent on my street, as we were walking towards the shop. Costa’s grandchildren weren’t local, and the photos didn’t give him the same moment of connection he’d had with my daughter. She made us laugh as we walked together, discussing places we’d both loved in Italy. Later that day I saw a job advert for a new project The Cares Family was starting, taking their successful model bringing together older and younger neighbours to bringing together parents and their young children with older neighbours through new '3G' social clubs. I knew I needed to be a part of it.
Since starting in January we’ve been exploring Haringey, where I live, and neighbouring Waltham Forest, to see what’s going on, to find exciting venues, and to hone sessions that will appeal to a diverse crowd. These groups will provide opportunities for locals from across the generations to get together and share the joy, and challenges, of having children. Together we will laugh, play and tell stories – with the intention of bringing us closer together and supporting one another to feel part of something bigger.
Instead of gallivanting around London, now I walk with my daughter to my local Children’s Centre, pop into the church on my road, regularly bump into my neighbours and set up camp in local cafés – reaching out to neighbours who may also like to be involved in the first of our 3G social clubs.
Supporting the set-up of these clubs has connected me even more deeply to my neighbourhood, encouraging me to start more conversations and to try new ways of engaging with my community. It’s good to have a bit of that feeling back – my neighbourhood is no longer just a space to get through from the tube to my home. Instead, I feel grounded in my community.
If this sounds like something you are looking for too we’d love for you to join us at one of our upcoming social clubs – check our dates below, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 07880 958 013.
- Friday 6th March, 9:30am-11:30am, Walthamstow
- Monday 16th March, 2pm-4pm, Bruce Grove, Haringey
- Thursday 26th March, 9:30am-11:30am, Bruce Grove, Haringey
- Monday 20th April, 2pm-4pm, Bruce Grove, Haringey