Why youth wants words from the wise

WRVS campaign is calling for older people to help younger generations navigate tough times by sharing their accumulated life experience. Chief executive David McCullough wants Weston Spirit readers to get involved

Think young people have no time for the older generation? Then I’m pleased to say you can think again. A recent poll from WRVS found young people feel they have a lot to learn from older members of society, particularly in helping navigate the current tough times.

Well over half (58 per cent) of those aged 25-34 and almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of 16- to 24-yearolds said they’d welcome advice from over-65s on how to live within their means. Another 55 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds said they wanted tips on how to waste less food – good for the pocket and the environment.

Those who’ve lived through the second world war, seen several recessions and remember the three-day working week know a thing or two about getting by on what you have. But it’s not just money that younger generations want help with. More than half of 16-34s think over-65s can help them understand the “secret to a happy marriage” and 54 per cent of those in middle age (45-54) are looking for advice on enjoying growing older.

As Britain’s largest charity working with older people, we at WRVS know there’s a huge amount of wisdom and experience to be drawn on. Our 40,000 volunteers benefit from it every day, in return for providing a helping hand.

But how easy is it for young people to get this advice? A third of 16- to 24-year-olds and one in four aged 25-34 don’t have regular contact with anyone over the age of 65. Opportunities to share experience are diminishing just when they are most needed.

That’s why we’ve worked with older people to create a new campaign – WRVS Nationwise – to help bridge the gap.

We’ve asked older people what advice they have to share. For example, Jill, aged 67, told us how she kept the kids amused when money was tight: “We had an old reel-to-reel tape recorder and used to record stories on it. We’d make up tales with the children and do lots of different voices. The kids loved it! I suppose you’d do it on a smartphone these days.”

A cultural shift is long overdue and we hope WRVS Nationwise will help trigger it by sparking debate about what older people have to offer us all. We want everyone to share their pearls of wisdom for coping in tough times, no matter how old or young.

To share yours go to www.wrvs.org.uk/nationwise



David McCullough is chief executive of WRVS