Claire Redway and Sarah Laffey are two of the local residents behind The Wiser Collective.
A community initiative which connects older people and their skills and experience with younger people and families has launched in Wandsworth.
Local residents Claire Redway and Sarah Laffey and their team have formed The Wiser Collective, aiming to provide access to a local network which can:
- Offer practical support for families living apart from their relatives
- Build connections and provide purpose for potentially isolated older people
- Offer a sense of neighbourly community and companionship for both groups.
Claire and Sarah came up with the idea when friends of Sarah’s kept telling her how lucky she was to have her mum living nearby.
“I realised that most of my local friends with a busy family life are living quite a distance from their older relatives and are really missing the sort of support you get from having your mum, dad or perhaps an aunt or uncle around,” says Sarah.
“It’s not just babysitting – it’s the knowledge and experience they share on a day to day basis with things like gardening and cooking advice or those awkward DIY jobs you never get round to. It’s also about practical help of course and, whilst my mum is pretty busy herself, she has the flexibility to help us out with things like sourcing costumes for dress up days at school, picking up missed deliveries, helping our kids with homework and music practice or just walking the dog when everyone’s too busy! Sometimes you really just need a hand with the basics to keep up with family life.”
As a mum to four busy children, Claire misses her own mother who lives in Northern Ireland so she loved the concept straight away and could see the potential benefit to older generations too.
“We kept hearing that
many older people are living without the support and companionship of their own
families nearby, perhaps not working or getting out much and suffering some
really negative effects from isolation. With loneliness being such a hot topic
and real social challenge for all age groups, The Wiser Collective feels like a
timely part of the solution,” commented Claire.
The pilot phase started in January 2019 with a group of Balham residents who use the service to connect with each other for skill-sharing and to make new neighbourly connections.
So if you are an older personwho is living independently and has time and skills to offer to help local families OR if you are a local familywho could use the skills and experience of an older neighbour (and could offer practical help and/or companionship in return), then The Wiser Collective would love to hear from you!