It’s Global Intergenerational Week a campaign dedicated to connecting everyone who is passionate about everything intergenerational. Now in its third year, the week looks to inspire individuals, groups, organisations, local/national government, and NGOs to fully embrace intergenerational practice, connecting people of all ages, especially the younger and older generations.
At Doorstep Library our volunteering opportunities bring people from all walks of life together. Because of the nature of our work, taking books into family homes whether in-person or online, both our volunteers and our families are able to meet people from different communities, different cultural backgrounds and indeed people from different generations. Our reading projects bring children and older people together every day, all sharing their love of reading and books.
After two years of minimal interaction with others, it is now more important than ever that we develop and celebrate relationships between generations. This will help us to rebuild our local communities, reduce isolation and loneliness, and improve health and mental wellbeing.
Indeed, we know that 98% of Doorstep Library volunteers say that volunteering with us makes them feel more connected to their local community.
To celebrate one of these relationships, this week we talked to Mary, one of our older volunteers. Mary is a long-standing Hammersmith and Fulham volunteer who last year moved over to become an Online Reading Volunteer, now visiting our Camden families. Mary has been retired for several years now and has a degree in Phonetics and Linguistics. Much of her career saw her working with English with Speakers of Other Language (ESOL), or English as a Foreign Language (EFL). She has worked with both adults and children, sometimes for language, sometimes for cultural programmes so the experience she brought with her to our volunteering programmes was invaluable.
Mary and her current volunteering partner who she says “is a very big part of any success they have” are a dynamic duo. They have three very happy reading sessions each week and seem to always find exactly the right thing to say to the children. One of Mary’s families is made up of two children – a 3-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl. Often the younger child is too tired to participate in the sessions but she describes the older child, as “vivacious and bouncy”. Initially, the young girl was not a good reader but since joining the Doorstep Library sessions her reading has shown “startling progress”.
“We have seen her make startling progress and she is now so much more fluent, an absolute joy. She has been especially pleased with the Doorstep Library gifted books and shows them to us.”
Mary acknowledges that being an older volunteer is an added bonus. Many of the children we visit may be less likely to see their older relatives regularly however, as Mary has put it “Older adults being interested and enthusiastic about books is an encouragement for life. Easy conversation with people of different age groups bodes well for society.” Being able to share the magic of books and have those conversations about old classics the volunteer themselves may have read as a child, or to bond over new titles shows children that reading is a lifelong joy and has no age limit.
“…It must be a good thing to participate in the enjoyable reading experience with an older person. Even if it’s subliminal, it shows that reading is a lifelong joy! I actually enjoy the books as much as them, and I hope that shows!”
If you would like to join Mary and create your own Doorstep Library story then please get in touch and find out more about how you can pass the gift of reading and books on to children who might not have the same opportunities you did.
Stories belong to everyone, what’s your story? What will you be saying/sharing and who will you be saying it to / sharing it with?
To find out more please sign up for an online Information Session here.
For more information about becoming a Home or Online Reading Volunteer – click here.