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City students launch project to promote health and happiness of senior citizens

Student volunteers at City University London set up the Senior Citizens Venture

by Nicola Ranson

Three City students are helping to tackle loneliness and promote the health and happiness of elderly local people with their new volunteering project, the Senior Citizens Venture.

Rida Khan, Karishma Patel and Anjorna Nanda, students from City University London, have been organising weekly activities and events for residents at the Bridgeside Lodge CareFun in the Sun Centre as part of the project. These include arts and crafts, gardening, baking, games and competitions. 

The aim of the project is to have a positive impact on the lives of senior citizens in the borough by providing the chance for them to take part in stimulating activities and to interact with people outside the care centre.

According to Age UK ‘loneliness’ can cause as much harm to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, with older people living in care homes reporting higher feelings of loneliness than those in the wider community.

The Senior Citizens Venture was developed as part of the Volunteer Management Programme, a scheme that encourages students to identify social needs in Islington and to devise ways to help tackle them.
During the summer, the volunteers hope to arrange a summer barbecue and walks along Regent’s Canal. The team are also planning to expand to further care homes across the borough later in the year, using their experience to train fellow volunteers from the University.

Beverly Gianotti, Activities Coordinator at Bridgeside Lodge Care Centre said:

The students have been fantastic and we can already see the impact they are having. As they start to get to know and bond with the residents they are able to tailor the activities to suit their interests and needs. Some of our residents don’t have regular visitors and we rely on volunteers for help and support. We’ve even had a few people ask when the students were coming back! They’re a great addition to the team.

Rida Khan, the Senior Citizens Venture Project Leader said:

When I found out that a lot of local people in Islington experience loneliness and social isolation I knew I wanted to do something to help, which is why I decided to set up this project with two of my friends. Through the Senior Citizens Venture we aim to interact with the elderly people living across the borough to have a positive impact on their lives.

"I lost all four of my grandparents in a really short space of time and they were all very generous, charitable people, so this is for them - I wanted to do something they would be proud of. Both the residents and staff at Bridgeside Lodge Care Centre are really welcoming and are always appreciative of our visits.”

Professor Julienne Meyer, Professor of Nursing Care for Older Adult at CityJulienne Meyer founded the My Home Life initiative to promote quality of life and to deliver positive change in care homes. Professor Meyer said:

“Care homes are looking after some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society, but often find themselves disconnected from their local communities, sometimes referred to as ‘Islands of the Old’. Care homes have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with their local community (expertise in caring for frail older people, including dementia at the end stage of life) and it is great that City students have gone where others fear to go and had such a positive experience. This welcome good news story deserves to be shared, as it might encourage others to engage more with care homes.”
Definition
Volunteer Management Programme

City's Volunteer Management Programme, launched in October 2014, is funded by the City Future Fund and encourages students to identify social needs in Islington and organise projects to help tackle them.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.