Exchange of views

Leonie Eisenberg from Generation Exchange on how to bridge the divide between generations

Generation Exchange helps bring together younger and older generations
Generation Exchange helps bring together younger and older generations

Generation Exchange is an intergenerational charity and our aim is to provide fulfilling educational opportunities to children, young people, and the older generation.

The charity was set up in 2016 in Haringey and has supported and trained more than 50 older volunteers to help children with reading, maths, and life skills in primary and secondary schools.

We have also developed a digital inclusion programme, ‘IT Exchange’, whereby teenage volunteers from schools in Enfield and Haringey work one-to-one with older people to help them improve their digital skills.

Over the past four years we have recruited 150 young volunteers to support local older people. With the pandemic, our face-face work was suspended, but we responded to the crisis by creating a virtual edition of our IT Exchange programme, which launched in January.

In nine weekly supervised sessions held online we recruited, trained and supported 36 volunteers aged 16-17 from St Anne’s Upper School in Palmers Green and the London Academy of Excellence in Tottenham to provide digital support to older people. Their role has been to plan and deliver presentations to 30 older people aged 60-plus on a variety of IT topics, including how to set up a Zoom account, installing apps, and online shopping.

I’ve been so impressed with the dedication and willingness to collaborate from the schools and volunteers involved. Their support is of direct benefit to so many local older people, where digital skills have become even more essential as a result of the pandemic.

We have also partnered with another charity to deliver an online safety session and we held a virtual quiz. One of the older learners said: “Thanks to the volunteers, I was able to install the Zoom app to host a meeting, and I actually had a Zoom meeting with my family.

“They too were so excited that they asked me to host another one.”

Maria-Cristina Geraci, from St Anne’s Upper School, works closely with us to support the project. She said: “It is a fantastic project for our young people and it is a pleasure to see the benefits and support they are offering to older people in the local community.

“Each week our older learners have been logging in to learn something new and spend time with their student teachers. The experience has been fantastic to watch.

“Throughout the sessions stories of many different kinds are always exchanged, creating such a nice virtual atmosphere.”

For more information:
Call 07713 937 811
Visit generationexchange.org.uk