The new face of community

London is a city thriving with innovation, opportunity and excitement. New businesses and organisations sprout up every day all over our capital. With the constant churn and change amongst new pop-up restaurants, shops and bars, it can be hard to get a sense of what came before.

Our older neighbours grew up in an entirely different London. They lived in a time where more businesses were passed down through family, and jobs were for life. For many people in south London, factories, breweries and big industry were at the centre of their livelihoods and communities.

Sid And Peter

It can be mind boggling for our older neighbours to grasp the function of jobs that have evolved since they retired 20 or even 30 years ago. Most jobs are thoroughly reliant on the internet and ever evolving technology to even exist – never mind to be the focal function of a business.

We live in a rapidly changing, increasingly computerised city where everything is becoming touch screen and automated. Tasks which were previously the responsibility of employees in banks, supermarkets and post offices are now taken care of without human interaction. For a generation who are more at ease with written correspondence and A-Z maps, than smart phones and the internet, the growing reliance on technology for almost all aspects of daily life can be baffling and frustrating. 

In the context of such an incredibly fast paced, gentrified and automated London, it's heart warming to see businesses in south London who are doing all they can to make their older neighbours feel welcome and included. They are quietly creating an intergenerational community in their own new way.

Recently, online marketing company Scoota invited William, Gloria and the gang along to their office in Victoria for high tea and high tech! Our older neighbours were treated to a tour of the office, learnt all about conducting business on the internet, and even had the opportunity to experience virtual reality!

Cropped Frances Afternoon Tea At Scoota

This business visit meant that at the incredible age of 94, Frances was finally able to fulfil her ambition of (virtual) skydiving! She couldn’t get over how enjoyable and welcoming she’d found the whole experience: “it’s just so wonderful that these young people have taken the time to introduce us to their work and to show us a good time – I’ve not laughed so much in ages!”

Over the last few months our older neighbours from all across Southwark and Lambeth have also sampled beer at the Southwark Brewery in Bermondsey, shared pizzas at Franco Manca in East Dulwich and Brixton, and munched on brunch at Café Barcelona in Streatham Hill. The Old Red Lion in Kennington have gone the extra mile and welcomed their older neighbours along for a monthly drink at their local for our Pub Club – needless to say that’s gone down a storm!

After coming along to his first Pub Club a few months ago, older neighbour David told us: “I usually spend my days all by myself, so I can't tell you what it means to have discovered that nights like this are still possible at my age!”

Helen At Pub Club Bill And Maria

These generous businesses have not only given their older neighbours fantastic experiences and memories to treasure, but have also succeeded in reassuring Sid, John and Daphne that these new places and spaces are open to them, not just their younger neighbours.

Charlie Jamieson

Posted by Charlie Jamieson on Friday 6th May 2016

Charlie designs and delivers exciting Social Clubs across Southwark and Lambeth for younger and older south Londoners to enjoy together. Before joining the team, Charlie worked for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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