Spare Chair Sunday first launched in 2015 as a partnership between national charity Contact the Elderly and Bisto. Expanding on the charity’s model of free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged over 75 who live alone, Spare Chair Sunday encouraged people to offer a ‘spare chair’ at their Sunday lunch tables to a Contact the Elderly older guest and their volunteer driver, to share a delicious warm lunch all together. The response to the award-winning campaign was amazing, with over 1,600 Spare Chair Sunday volunteers hosting Sunday lunches or becoming regular tea party volunteers in their local community.
Any host homes or venues must have a downstairs toilet and be easily accessible (generally we say no more than three steps where possible).
Any car used must be fully insured and drivers must hold a full driving licence, as well as supplying two references and completing a DBS check. This is for the safety and security of guests and host.
Interested? Click on http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/volunteer to apply to become a volunteer. Applications are dealt with as soon as possible, but please do be patient, all necessary checks must be made. In some cases, there will not be anyone near enough to you, groups may already have as many volunteers as they require, or there may not be a group in your area. It may be the case that your application may enable work to be launched in the area for the first time, enabling more older people to benefit!
Borrowing from neighbours was once a commonplace practice, part of the network of relations we once had with those who lived within close range.
So what’s changed?
The industrial revolution brought affordable modern technology—with it quick transportation and supermarkets. In ancient times, hunting, gathering, and foraging were communal practices. And it wasn’t long ago that many cultures, especially rural ones, still relied on weekly markets, traveling salesmen, and the growing of their own goods. But living in relative isolation also meant more contact with your neighbours because one of them probably provided your weekly dairy needs and another milled wheat for flour or grew pears you exchanged for apples.
Changes in food technology, making fresh produce less perishable, extending shelf life, has decreased the interaction we have with those who live close by to help out when we are running short. Communal cooking practises regularly seen in other countries don’t feature in our society.
It’s easy to reflect on past practises with rose tinted spectacles. Changes in our food supply has brought countless benefits. However, does the growing reliance on foodbanks indicate we should re-evaluate practises long forgotten? Reconnecting with our neighbours in times of need would not only strengthen bonds within our communities but provide welcome support during difficult times. The social distance created by modern society is a symptom of our increasingly busy lives and the sprawling communities we now live in. However, it is only a short walk next door for that cupful of sugar, but the benefits to our communities can stretch much further than that.
Solomon thought so, he says to ‘go to the ant’ and ‘consider the ant’ and refers to them as little upon the earth but exceeding wise. He suggests that taking a leaf from their book will preserve us from poverty and give us wisdom. Given Solomon is the richest man the world has ever known (today he would be worth 100 times more than John D Rockefeller), some ant facts are worth knowing.
So, how do ant communities do it?
1. Strong leadership
Ant communities are headed by a queen or queens, whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs that will ensure the survival of the colony. Workers (the ants typically seen by humans) are wingless females that never reproduce, but instead, forage for food, care for the queen’s offspring, work on the nest, protect the community, and perform many other duties. When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months. Queens are rarely replaced and the workers are not able to reproduce. The lesson;
Without strong and clear leadership – failure is imminent!
2. Communicate & cooperate
Ants are social insects which form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Ants communicate and cooperate by using chemicals (pheromones) that can alert others to danger or lead them to a promising food source. The lesson;
Nothing can succeed without clear communication and cooperation.
Carnegie Trust UK have published their second report looking at loneliness and social isolation and the impact of kinder communities. The report finds kindness is a necessary ingredient of successful communities. However there are major factors that get in the way of engaging and encouraging kindness both in individuals and organisations. Read the report here
Christmas is a time of giving and receiving, spending time with friends and family and maybe overindulging just a little bit?
Here are our top tips to ensure you don’t start 2018 with that sinking feeling of too much Christmas pudding being the final straw;
- Don’t sit down all day – go for a walk, kick a football about, ride a new bike. Not only will this aid digestion, but help you sleep better too.
- Go easy on the booze
- Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing! Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man!
- Keep colds at bay
- Don’t stress – ’tis the season to be jolly remember
- Eat fruit – even the clementine tucked in the bottom of your stocking will boost vitamin C warding coughs and colds.
- Do something for others – do you have an elderly neighbour who would love to share some festive spirit?
- Engage your brain – play games, do a crossword, not only does this keep your mind active but can be fun for the whole family
Connections between generations are proven to enrich the lives of both young and seniors in long-lasting and meaningful ways.
When young people find ways to engage and develop relationships with the elderly, these experiences can build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and encourage a lifelong commitment to volunteering.
For seniors, intergenerational connections provide the opportunity to transfer knowledge and wisdom, acknowledge self-worth, and feel they are contributing members of society.
In today’s world, many young people are experiencing less interaction with seniors because of homogenous neighborhoods, dispersed extended families, and increasing segregation of seniors living in care facilities or in isolation
Some of the benefits of intergenerational work include:
- Creation of age friendly communities.
- All generations have a lot to both teach and learn from each other and contribute to lifelong learning.
- Tackles issues around stereotyping and ageism.
- Increases understanding and respect between older people and younger people.
- Chance to make new friends and combats social isolation.
Thinking, talking, and walking are inextricably linked through history. It is only a recent idea that we meet around tables, seated in chairs. We want to help you rediscover and share the value of walking meetings.
Aristotle was said to walk as he taught, founding what we now refer to as Ancient Greece’s Peripatetic School of Philosophy. This name was derived from the colonnade or walkway in the Lyceum in which he taught. The Sophists, philosophers predating Socrates, were wanderers. They travelled place to place on foot delivering talks.
Despite the onslaught of “mobile” technology, people are spending more time sitting at their desk than ever before. The average worker sits about 9.5 hours a day – which is 2 hours more per day than they sleep.
What keeps us tethered to our desks? Our insatiable thirst for increased productivity and efficiency. Ironically, one of the things that makes us most effective is leaving our desks.
It’s well-known that Steve Jobs insisted on walking meetings, and Mark Zuckerberg favors them as well.
Here are 7 reasons you want to consider incorporating moving meetings into your culture:
- Employee Health.
Walking meetings allow employees to integrate physical activity throughout their workday, which yields improved health, lower health care costs, and a lower number of sick days.
- Higher Employee Energy
Movement yields circulation; circulation yields energy. Rather than reach for a biscuit to get a boost of energy, take a walk outside.
Nature and changes of scenery trigger new neuro-pathways in our brains which yield new ideas, and new solutions to problems.
- A Flatter Organization.
- Technology executive Nilofer Merchant shares in her 3-minute TED Talk that when executives and employees walk side-by-side, the hierarchical boundaries are virtually eliminated.
- Increased Collaboration.
- Walking meetings aren’t just for a few people. Larger groups can benefit as well. Unlike traditional meetings in a conference room, where attendees take a seat and often don’t move until the meeting is over, mobile meetings give attendees the option of moving freely from one conversation to another.
- Stronger Personal Connections.
Walking meetings take the corporate feeling out of meetings. Employees can accomplish the same goals set for a traditional meeting, but they can relate on a much more personal level.
- Minimized Differences.
Walking meetings bring everyone together. As companies continue to employee 5 different generations of workers, and as diversity increases in the workforce, walking meetings break down both conscious and unconscious biases and barriers.So next time you’re scheduling a meeting, why not give a walking meeting a go?