YOUNG and elderly residents have been building bridges and learning how much they have in common at a social club which provides work experience for students and a social opportunity for the retired.
‘Bridging Generations’, run by the Chichester Priory Rotary Club, encourages the young and old to get together at Chichester College to enjoy a chat over tea and cakes every other Tuesday in termtime.
About 20 of the college’s health and social care students take two hours out of their studies to sit with the elders in the college’s restaurant.
The principal of the college, Shelagh Legrave, said: “The opportunity for us, as a college, to talk to people from a generation that they might not be able to access in their day-to-day lives is just fantastic.
“We take our responsibility as a college in the community, really seriously.
“It’s tremendously good for them as it adds to their confidence in being able to talk to other people so it’s a win-win for both of us.”
Mike Harvey, the project leader from Chichester Priory Rotary Club, said the club ensured elders in Chichester were not left feeling lonely as they were given the regular opportunity to get out of their homes.
He said: “One of the elders told me ‘this makes me feel younger, as I walk down the corridor I have a spring in my step’.”
At each meeting, the students and older attendees are kept well-filled with tea and cakes while they chat.
Louise Paterson, 66, the minibus driver for Bosham Monday Club, has been attending the club and providing lifts to the elderly for about a year.
She said: “I think it’s just wonderful to meet these new people and hear about their dreams and ambitions and I hope I give them a bit of help towards those.”
Retired Jean Wonnacott, from Southbourne, said she thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the young students.
“I believe they are the future and we’ve got to understand the young people and they’ve got to understand the elderly.
“It’s all about understanding each other.”
Samantha Andrew, 16, from Selsey, attended the club for the first time and said she was hoping to gain experience which will be helpful to her career in care.
“I want to boost my confidence and meet new people. Elderly people have a lot of stories they can tell and it’s interesting to hear them.”
Student Amy Baker, 17, also said she enjoyed hearing about the experiences of the elderly.
“It’s helping me learn and understand the elderly a lot more,” she said.
For more information, ring Mike on 01243-697186