Intergenerational living: what is it and how can it improve our social relationships?

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A closer connection between those across the spectrum of life could hold some magnificent opportunities for all involved. Let’s explore the power of intergenerational living…

Intergenerational living: what is it and how can it improve our social relationships?

How many people do you regularly interact with who are of a different age to you, another generation? Now take away your close friends and family, does that change things?

In reality, apart from maybe someone we work with, or say hello to in the supermarket, many of us only have fleeting moments, rather than deep connections, with people of differing ages and stages of life.

But, why is this so important? Diversity is critical to our wellbeing, offering new perspectives, insight, and even improving our creativity! And intergenerational relationships contribute greatly to this. They go far beyond befriending and volunteering, both of which are still beneficial, but encompass learning, laughing, teaching, supporting, and really experiencing life together.

With so many wide-ranging benefits of intergenerational relationships – socially, mentally, and emotionally – I’d like to celebrate and share some of the ways that they can help you to thrive, and invite you to get involved, too.

A new age

One of the best ways to connect more deeply with other generations is by getting involved in your community – and learning from the range of characters you’ll meet there. Some incredible initiatives have launched over the years, including Food for Life which hosts local events, from cook-a-longs to teaching people how to grow their own food, for people of all ages and backgrounds. Plus, the Eden Project organises a ‘month of community’ in June, inviting people to get together to celebrate friendship, food, and fun with their neighbours.

It doesn’t stop there though. We constantly hear about the care needs of older adults and issues of social isolation. But it’s become apparent, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, that despite young people having access to large social media channels, they suffer social isolation as much as older adults. Depression and anxiety are not confined to the young either.

The Office of National Statistics estimates that approximately 67 million people live in the UK, and that 18.6% are over the age of 65. By 2041, that figure is set to increase to 26%. At the same time, the increasing cost of living, and various other challenges, means that larger numbers of young people are still living at home. Could there be a way for these parties to support one another, and address the issues of loneliness at the same time?

If we see age merely as a differentiator, we’re pigeon-holing ourselves. It doesn’t fit the 70-year-old motorcyclist or gig-goer, or the teenage baking or cross-stitch enthusiast. It simply gets us trapped in stereotypes, and limits our opportunities to connect – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Intergenerational living: what is it and how can it improve our social relationships?

Breaking the mould

Drawing together different groups in society has a wealth of benefits, which initiatives like

5 powerful tips for managing conflict in social situations

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Whether it’s a meeting at work or a family dynamic that conjures up concern around the possibility of clashes, here are five effective ways you can proactively manage tough conversations and situations

1. Assume the best

5 powerful tips for managing conflict in social situations

It’s easy to talk ourselves into fearing a situation, and expecting the worst, even when we have no evidence that things will play out as we imagine. However, by catastrophising and anticipating conflict we’re telling ourselves that we’re about to be in danger, and our mind and body will then react as if that is true.

Intercept anticipatory negative thoughts as they enter your mind by asking yourself: ‘Do I know this to be true?’ If the answer is no, ask yourself how you would like the conversation or event to play out instead.

2. Set intentions

You can’t manage how other people will communicate or react, but you can present yourself in a way that you are proud of. By writing down how you will behave and communicate, you’re setting positive intentions that will help you manage your interactions. Read through your intentions again before your meet-up, so they’re fresh in your mind.

3. Put in a pause

If you believe that the situation is going south, you don’t have to passively slide down the slippery route to conflict! Putting a pause in the middle of proceedings can really help.

This is situation dependent, but if things feel like they’re escalating into unproductive territory, simply say: “I really want to continue this conversation. I just need to go to the bathroom/grab some water/blow my nose, and when I get back, let’s talk about this further.”

While you’re away from the discussion, slow your breathing down, making each exhale longer than the inhale, and remember the intentions you’ve set for yourself. When you re-enter the discussion, thank the person for waiting for you – hopefully, tension will have dissipated and tempers will calm.

4. Stay grounded

If verbal conflict should arise, physically ground yourself by placing both feet flat on the floor, and by keeping your breathing steady. Avoid interrupting the other person, and take a breath before you speak, both of which can help to prevent the conversation from escalating into a rally of positional points.

If you believe that the situation cannot be rectified at that moment, say so, and be clear about how you wish to be treated and proceed. This doesn’t have to be combative. You could try: “It seems that we disagree on this. I respect you, and I think it would be great for us both to have some time to think about what we’ve shared. Shall we give each other a bit of time and space to process the discussion, and chat again in a couple of days?”

5. You’re safe and loved

Conflict, or even the anticipation of conflict, can make us feel shaky and off-centre. Take some time to ‘come down’ after your interaction. If you can, take a walk outdoors and use the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding method – focus on five t

How to look after your mental health while waiting for NHS support

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With nearly a quarter of us having to wait to start treatment for our mental health, we share eight ways you can look after yourself while waiting to access support

How to look after your mental health while waiting for NHS support

The Royal College of Psychiatrists revealed that two in five (43%) adults with a mental illness feel that long waits for treatment have led to their mental health getting worse. With almost one in four (23%) of us waiting more than 12 weeks to start treatment - and many areas having limited types of support and numbers of sessions available - it’s no wonder so many of us feel like we’re not only struggling with our mental health, but aren’t getting the help that we need when we need it.

Non-urgent referrals for consultant-led treatments in England are legally entitled to be seen within 18 weeks, from the day the service or hospital receives your referral letter or the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service. But that can feel like a long time when you are struggling and feel like you need help now.

Taking that step and seeking a referral is huge. But it’s not always the instant fix we hope for - especially when faced with delays in receiving support. It’s natural to feel disappointed, overwhelmed, or unsure of what you can do while waiting to access help and support. So, what can you do to look after yourself until support becomes available?

If you’re worried you may be in crisis, seek help immediately

If you think you may have reached a crisis point, or are in immediate danger of harming yourself or others, seek help immediately. Call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department.

If you need to talk to someone now without worrying about being judged, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 anytime, any day, or get in contact with them another way.

Reach out to friends and family

Asking for help from those we love when we’re struggling can feel impossible. When you’re struggling with your mental health, you may worry about opening up to friends or family, as you may fear you are being an inconvenience, adding extra stress to their lives, or may be seen as ‘over-reacting’.

You may worry about being judged or rejected, yet reaching out can help you to feel a deeper sense of connection with others, gain valuable outside perspective, and help to feel unstuck.

Try these tips on how to ask friends and family for help when you’re struggling.

Have a conversation with your boss

Talking about mental health in the workplace has become much more commonplace in recent years. Yet many of us may hesitate to let our employers know when we are struggling. It’s important to remember that your employer is legally obligated to make reasonable adjustments to help accommodate you – but in order to do so, they need to k

6 good news stories not to miss

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Find some light in the dark with these positive news stories

Social enterprise cooks up tasty support for kinship families

6 good news stories not to miss

According to the charity Family Rights Group, more than 180,000 children across the UK are being cared for by their kin – a grandparent, other relative, or family friend – due to their parents being unable to care for them. And while it’s an instinctive choice to make, it is a life-altering role that can come with many unique challenges.

Social worker Anna-Lou Manca has witnessed many kinship carers face financial and emotional difficulties over the course of her career, and it was for this reason that she founded Kinship Carers Hub in 2020 – a social enterprise on a mission to help kinship carers get the support they need to fulfil such a rewarding role.

The hub runs many projects – from employment opportunities to webinar training – which are all designed to provide guidance and support to kinship families, but their main project, Kinship Carers Cooking Club, is one combating social isolation through the power of food.

Each week, kinship families come together to cook and eat a meal, provided by the hub. Aside from the practical support provided through receiving groceries on a weekly basis, and learning about healthy, budget-friendly recipes, it also offers the opportunity to bond and access peer-to-peer support. One carer says: “It has allowed the children to see there are other children in the same situation as themselves, to show them that they aren’t alone.”

If you would like support as a kinship carer, visit kinshipcarershub.org

6 good news stories not to miss

Anna-Lou, founder of Kinship-Hub. Photography | Urszula Soltys


Workplace bullying survivor launches campaign for new UK law

The effects of workplace bullying can last a lifetime, chipping away at our confidence and undermining our self-esteem. But Skevi Constantinou, one woman who has been there herself, has come out the other side, and is ready to call for major change to protect others.

The former executive assistant was targeted at work over her chronic autoimmune condition, to the point where she eventually felt afraid to go into the workplace. And, sadly, she’s not alone. But despite Trades Union Congress (TUC) figures that found nearly a third of people have been bullied at work, with more than one in three people going on to leave their job because of it, workplace bullying is not currently recognised as a crime by UK law, leaving the door open for the perpetrators to get away with this behaviour.

“This affects millions of people, not just in the UK but globally,” Skevi says. “It’s so important that these people are represented and not made to feel that this is normal – to go to work and be treated that way. Bullies need to be stopped in the workplace.”

She points to Sweden as an example of a country that already has laws that specifically prohibit bullying in the workplace.

“We all deserve to go to work and be respected in a safe environment,” she says. “Whilst my own experiences have shaped me in

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