Sheffield’s students and care home residents join campaign to end loneliness

Students and care home residents in Sheffield are joining forces to create friendships and combat loneliness as part of a new ‘Together’ initiative.

Thursday, 8th August 2019, 09:15 am
Updated Thursday, 8th August 2019, 09:21 am

The programme is an opportunity for residents to build friendships outside of their accommodation and to encourage healthy well-being.

Research shows both students and the older generation are at higher risk of suffering the negative impact of loneliness.

Dan Baker, general manager at Student.com said: “Student experience and well-being is paramount for us at Student.com. The ‘Together’ initiative is a fantastic opportunity to take this focus and bring it further into the spotlight as we head into the next academic year. We feel privileged to play a part - alongside our partners - in enriching the university experience for students through this initiative.”

Kathryn Rawling, volunteer coordinator at Sheffcare, added: “Volunteers help to connect our residents to the community, and they bring fresh conversations and interests to the residents’ day. Friendships and connections are often made which is always so lovely to see.

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“The benefits to the volunteers themselves is also very apparent as residents share interesting stories about their lives, sometimes moving, sometimes humorous.”

Danielle Pearson, area manager at Sheffield City Student Roost, concludes: “Our residents will have a great opportunity to support the well-being of older people in the community and their own, whilst also helping to reduce social isolation. We will be actively encouraging our residents who arrive in September to become Sheffcare volunteers as we believe this initiative is an opportunity for students to make incredibly special friendships that will enrich their time in Sheffield and beyond.”

According to Student.com, 70 per cent of students have felt lonely whilst at university, and a quarter of those surveyed often felt that way.

Likewise, more than 1.7 million older people can go for over a month without communication with a friend, neighbour or family member, according to Age UK.

With the ‘Together’ initiative, the two age groups will be connected, in a bid to combat something that affects both.

Twelve students from Sheffield’s Student Roost accommodation properties will be paired with care home residents from one of Sheffield’s Sheffcare locations.

89 year old Eric, 103 year old Edna and 80 year old Brenda are just a few of the older members taking part.

At the beginning of the next academic year, the students will spend time with their ‘Together’ buddy to share memories and advice, with the aim of building friendships.

Although there is an initial cohort of 12 students, there will still be an opportunity for students to volunteer at other Sheffcare locations in Sheffield.

The programme was officially launched on July 31, in partnership with Student.com, a global student accommodation marketplace, local care home provider Sheffcare, and Student Roost, who house students from the local universities.

The success of ‘Together’ could determine whether the model is implemented across other university cities in the UK in the future.

For additional information about the initiative and students wishing to apply, see: www.student.com/together.