‘Golden age of harmony’ between young and old

The hand of friendship is being offered across the generations.
The hand of friendship is being offered across the generations.
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THE CULTURAL divide between young and old is seemingly a myth, as new research suggest a golden age of harmony between generations has begun.

Rather than being at loggerheads, 97 per cent of under-25s and 96 per cent of over-55s enjoy spending time with one another, exploding the myth that these two groups live completely separate lives.

A survey by Oddfellows Friendly Society, which has branches in branches in Bradford, Brighouse, Halifax, Skipton, Leeds, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Beverley, Hull and Goole, has “shattered” the commonly-held belief that opposite ends of the ageing spectrum shun each other.

Oddfellows says its research shows that the two groups shared knowledge – offering guidance on topics as diverse as social media, maths, how to make do and mend, modern slang, dancing, snowboarding, knitting and where to get good tattoos.

However, while it showed that people wish to spend time with those from another generation, many are starved of the opportunity to do so. One in four of the over 55s rarely or never spend time with the other age group, while one in five 13-25 year olds had few opportunities to spend time with over 55s.

Oddfellows chief executive Jane Nelson, said: “Unfortunately, it appears through our research that, as we get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to mix with younger people.

“Given the enjoyment and benefits over 55s derive from the company of young people, and vice versa, this is an issue more people need to be made aware of. We also need to focus attention on how to build more opportunities for old and young to come together.”

The benefits of bringing together younger people with those who may be isolated or lonely in their later years is something has long been evident to Leeds older people’s charity The Opal Project. It has many volunteers under the age of 25, including university students, and each year students from a local high school, Ralph Thoresby, host a Christmas dinner for 150 of its members.

Project manager Ailsa Rhodes said: “We do have some areas around here where older people might feel vulnerable or intimidated walking past a group of young people, but when you put them together in a safe environment you can garner something special, where both sides benefit.”

Oddfellows’ survey found 87 per cent of under 25s had learnt skills from an older person, such as cooking and DIY, while 76 per cent of over 55s had learnt things like IT skills from their younger counterparts.

Ms Nelson said: “What we appear to be seeing is a golden age of harmony between the generations as these two seemingly disparate groups are recognising that there are mutual benefits to spending time together.

“These groups are miles apart in terms of their life experience and expertise but our research found that it was these very differences that made their companionship so rewarding.”

The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to highlight the issue of loneliness, and the support that is available for those experiencing it, since February 2014.

Oddfellows was founded as a traditional savings Friendly Society for workers in 1810, but grew into friendship organisation open to everybody, organising days out, coffee mornings and events.

This September it is holding its Friendship Month, where it hopes to bring people together through tea parties, craft sessions, walks and trips outs, and activities that are open to people of any age.

For more information on events in Yorkshire, visit www.oddfellows.co.uk