I watched with interest the Hairy Bikers new programme called ‘Old School,’ its a subject very close to my heart.
One reason for that is I was a teaching assistant for 15 years in a variety of Bristol schools, and I love young people, their enthusiasm for life, their ability to live in the moment and their honesty. Many as shown in the programme have to deal with all sorts of issues and we are all too aware that many of our young people are suffering from mental health issues.
The other is of course my involvement with grandparents on a daily basis, and being an older person myself, I know how isolated and alone many are. In the case of those I support it is because they have lost family members, be that their own adult children and as a consequence their grandchildren, and those who have lost a grandchild due to a separation of some sort.
Being lonely, is something that is hard to describe to people, and it is true to say that you can be lonely in a room full of people.
This programme is doing something that should be happening in every school in the UK.
As Marc and I have been visiting schools here in Bristol, introducing Silver Stories we have seen the fantastic willingness and enthusiasm from the teaches we have spoken to, a genuine desire to communicate across the generations.
When I first heard about this project, my immediate thought was one of safeguarding, working in schools makes you very aware of child protection issues. My fears were allayed when seeing it in action and after discussion with the Head at Torpoint, who created it.
At no time were the children alone during their sessions, and the telephone call is on speakerphone at all times.
It is such a sad reflection on life today that we have to have a conversation about safeguarding, but it is the world we now live in and there is no turning back.
Children are now in school with 8 ft fences surrounding them, doors are locked and I wonder what that feels like?
Of course all of those measures have had to be brought in to keep our children safe, after horrific events over the years.
Although I completely understand concerns there may be for new projects involving both generations, after one comment made recently, I fear that we are almost viewing everyone as suspicious.
We already have groups suggesting that ‘all’ men should be perceived as dangerous, what a terrifying thing that is, and needs careful thought particularly if you are a parent/grandparent of sons and grandsons. What is it saying about them?
99.9% of people are wonderful people, people with something to give and to share, older people with a wealth of experience, young people wanting to hear those experiences, if we live in fear, we stop any chance of building relationships across the generations.
I applaud the BBC and The Hairy Bikers for making this programme and highlighting the reality in society today. I have no doubt that it won’t be all plain sailing, there will be things that make as squirm and to question, but if just one older person and just one young person builds trust with one another, job done!
All of us have a stereotypical view of young people and older people but the truth is, we all need one another.