Older people in drive to bridge generation gap
Britain’s over 65s believe they can provide valuable advice to the country’s younger generations – but they often don’t get the opportunity to share their wisdom.
According to research [released today] by WRVS, the leading charity for older people, 91% of over 65s think they could answer questions younger people struggle with and more than three quarters (78%) of people say the country would be in a better state if older people were listened to more often.
But with almost a third (32%) of 16-24 year-olds saying they don’t have regular contact with anyone aged 65 or over, and more than a quarter (28%) of those aged 25-34, WRVS is concerned that opportunities to share wisdom across the generations are diminishing just when they are needed most.
In response, the charity has worked with older people to create WRVS Nationwise – a new campaign launching today to share experience and help bridge the gap.
The campaign also aims to challenge the current view of many over 65s that as they get older, people are less likely to listen to them (31%) or respect their opinion (27%).
In many cases the contrary is true. Almost two thirds (63%) of 16-24 year-olds and over half (58%) of 25-34 year-olds say they would welcome advice from older people on how to live within their means. And half of all those aged 16-34 think they would be able to get ideas on dealing with difficult situations in life.
Older generations feel they can help younger people deal with a huge range of issues including relationships (34% would like to share their secrets to a happy marriage) and saving money (64% have advice to offer on living within your means, 51% say they have tips for how to waste less food and 24% on how to make shoes and clothes last longer).
And with people aged 65-74 recognised as some of the happiest in the country (ONS data), it is hoped their advice will be in demand. The WRVS research shows almost two thirds (65%) of over 65s attribute their happiness to valuing the right things in life. Over half (56%) say it is because their generation hasn’t got into debt in the way people do today.
David McCullough, WRVS Chief Executive says:
“As a nation we are missing out on the wisdom and experience of our older generations because the distance between young and old is widening and society doesn’t take the time to listen to its older members. So often we treat older people as a problem to be tackled, rather than an amazing source of knowledge and inspiration. A cultural shift is long overdue and we hope WRVS Nationwise will help trigger that by sparking debate about what older people have to offer us all. That’s why we’ve helped older people create this long term campaign.”
Cherry Thompson, 65 from Ramsgate, volunteers for WRVS and is author of one of many WRVS Nationwise tips on being out of work, written to help younger generations deal with tough times; she says:
“People of all ages are finding things tough at the moment, but my generation has seen it all before and we know a thing or two about getting through hard times. More often than not, we’re written off and talked about as a burden on society, but we have so much to offer younger people. WRVS Nationwise is all about sharing experience and helping everyone cope with life’s ups and downs. From advice on managing when you’re not in work, budgeting, and dealing with bereavement, to the secrets of a long-lasting relationship, and how to get a week’s meals out of just one chicken – we can help shed light on them all! Today is just the start. We want everyone to start sharing their top tips and pieces of advice for coping in tough times, no matter how old or young you are.”
Visit www.wrvs.org.uk/nationwise for downloadable sheets and short films including 76 year-old Mary’s tips on managing your money, 65 year-old Cherry’s advice on coping with being out of work, 73 year old Richard’s ideas for good food on a budget, and more.