Fresh air and friendships
With so many in-person events being cancelled over the past year, organisations have had to get creative with how to make sure their members keep in touch with their local communities.
Our partner, Time & Talents, began a partnership with Compass School in Southwark to build intergenerational friendships between their students and Time & Talents’ Visually Impaired Person (VIP) Group.
Mavis, who celebrated her 93rd birthday in January, and Eleanor, 15, met through this project and before being able to meet in person, became pen pals through adapted letters, voice recordings and telephone calls. Eleanor was able to find out more about Mavis’s fascinating past, working in hospitals around London before retiring from nursing and changing careers to work in a travel agency!
Finally in October they were able to meet in person at the Surrey Docks Farm. They chatted over tea and biscuits, while cuddling lap rabbits, before going on a tour of the sights, sounds and smells of an urban farm. Eleanor did not know much about visual impairment before her class joined this project and was a bit nervous about meeting the VIP group. But Mavis, who lost all of her vision in her right eye and 50% of the vision in her left from a degenerative condition over the last seven years, says the pair “had a little chat and got on well”.
During the trip, Eleanor learnt invaluable skills of how to guide her new friend in unfamiliar surroundings, picking up what Mavis found helpful and keeping up a running narration of the farm around them. Eleanor said that going out with the group has helped build her confidence immensely and looks forward to meeting up with Mavis again soon.