Coronavirus: 28,000 virtual volunteers ‘adopt a grandparent’ to help carehome residents during lockdown

Volunteers of all ages are signing up to help the elderly battle isolation

Matt Mathers
Thursday 02 April 2020 13:10
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More than 28,000 people from across the world have signed up to an “Adopt a Grandparent” scheme aimed at helping carehome residents during the coronavirus lockdown.

Carehome group CHD living launched the scheme earlier this month in a bid to provide its residents with companionship as fewer relatives visited due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Since then, thousands of volunteers from the ages of one to 76 have signed up to help residents at CHD’s 16 sites across Surrey battle through self-isolation.

CHD initially set up the scheme to pair residents with local children and adults who don’t have or see the grandparents in face-to-face meetings.

However, the scheme was digitised on 23 March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with CHD calling for “virtual volunteers”.

“The idea behind it was to promote inter-generational communication and the relationship between children and older people, which is very valuable,” said Shaleeza Hasham, head of communications for CHD Living.

“By taking it digital, we felt it was so valuable to relieve potential feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

“It’s been overwhelming,” Ms Hasham said. “There aren’t enough words to express.”

Volunteers are asked to complete a short questionnaire about their likes and dislikes, allowing residents to choose who they feel they might get on with.

There are introductory sessions to ensure the volunteers and their adopted grandparents get on, and each call is overseen by a supervisor.

And staff are finding that volunteers are getting as much out of the sessions as the residents.

“A lot of the messages we’re getting are very heartwarming and some are very emotional,” said Ms Hasham. “You see a lot of people who might say ‘I lost my grandparents’, or indeed ‘I lost my parents’, or I never met my grandparents’.

“It’s filling a void. The positive impact to everybody has been astounding really.”

Staff hope that once the pandemic has passed and it is safe to do so, as many of the volunteers as possible will visit their adopted grandparent in person.

And they are also looking into widening the scheme to include other carehomes across the country and even around the world.

You can sign up to “Adopt a Grandparent” by following this link.

Additional reporting by agencies

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