The Unorthodox Website Blog

Inter-generational and Inter-racial meetings

01 Jul

At  the venue where we have a senior citizens’ drama group and a pensioners’ lunch club we had a project meeting there weekly last month which involved senior citizens and adolescents from a local school playing games, telling stories, etc.( I believe prisoners from Wandsworth were also involved in this project, but of course they weren’t allowed out to join in this interaction! They were the third group in this project.)

For myself and my mother it was a very new experience since we have no contact whatsoever with this younger generation. Since I retired I rarely meet with anyone under 50. My mother is also totally isolated from younger generations. Neither I nor my brother have any children or grandchildren, and nephews/nieces of my mother and their offspring are hardly ever seen from one year to the next. Most of these offspring we’ve never even met.

So meeting with teenagers and interacting with them was truly an eye-opening experience. You see them on the streets and tend to imagine they all go around in gangs armed with knives and guns, well that’s the impression you get from the newspapers. These teenagers we met were affected by such things, a 20 or 21 year old cousin of two of them and friend of another was stabbed to death on a nearby council estate just last week, and one boy read a story he’d written about it, questioning what sort of world we were living in. It was very moving, and overall the whole month was a really worthwhile experience.

There’s another event in this project at their school on July 18th, which we’ll attend, but after that goodness knows when we’ll get the opportunity to meet with the younger generation again. I’m sure it was mutually rewarding, and evidence of this was yesterday’s final meet-up. School teachers, among others, were on strike, yet most of the pupils turned up for the meeting with us older people of their own accord. They had a day off school, yet still made the effort to give up their spare time to talk with senior citizens, I found that very impressive indeed. When I was at school and had a day off I doubt if I’d have done the same, but I’ve certainly have attended if it meant missing some school lessons!

It was not just intergenerational, but inter-racial as well. It is very noticeable that at the center where we have our lunch club and drama group the majority in both these groups are of British or European ethnic origin. The lunch club has one member of Afro-Caribbean ethnic origin, and the senior citizens’ drama group two. The nursery and the younger peoples’ groups who meet at the same center, however, are overwhelmingly of ethnic origin, as are all the State schools in the area. The demographics and ethnic mix between generations in this area, and all inner city areas, has changed so dramatically.

So to meet young people from a different ethnic background, some of them Muslims, was also a really novel and rewarding experience. There should be more of these sort of projects.

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