Much has been said and written about the things we disagree on. From the way we vote to our views on social and cultural issues, the generational divide has become a hot topic and cause for concern. Yet, sometimes we’re all too guilty of focussing on the negatives. Yes, there are disagreements – name a period in history where there hasn’t been – but, actually, we can lose sight of the positives – the things that bind us together and define us as a community.
2020 has undoubtedly been a tough year for all. But one good thing it’s done is it highlight some of that community spirit. We’ve reflected on the great jobs done by our key workers and reached out to support those in need. And, when push came to shove, the older members of society – too easily pigeonholed and criticised – rose to the challenge. The generation of parents and grandparents did what they do best and took responsibility for their friends, family and neighbours.
A study from Legal & General found the over 50s were the most likely group to have done a favour for a neighbour in 2020 – with 29% having done so, compared to 15% of those aged 20 and under.
The over 50s have also done their bit to lead by example – with two thirds having ‘closely’ followed the government’s coronavirus guidelines during the year, compared to just below a third for the under 20s.
LGI Direct Managing Director Paula Llewellyn said: ‘The purpose of this survey was to find out more about who the real unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic are. 2020 has given us a lot of time to reflect and, as the survey suggests, has made us realise the importance of caring and looking out for those around us, strangers or not.
‘The data quite clearly hails the over 50s for all of the effort they have put in over the last nine months to keep their communities going.’
Its research was mirrored by that of the Centre of Ageing Better – which found that half of people in their 50s and 60s now felt a greater sense of belonging to their local area and had a more favourable view of their neighbours.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: ‘The first lockdown was extremely difficult for many of us, but better connections to our neighbours has been one of the silver linings. Our research shows that the experience of lockdown increased people’s feelings of trust in their neighbours and their sense of belonging to their local area. More people also now know people they can count on to help out if they need it.’
While many over 50s are clearly active and respected members of the workforce – this year has also seen retirees roll their sleeves up and do their bit too.
When the coronavirus pandemic first struck, 15,000 retired medics went back to the NHS in some capacity in order to help – using their skills and expertise for the greater good.
In whatever capacity – whether through work or community mindedness – the nation’s over 50s have proven to be the glue that knits society together – doing themselves proud in helping to bridge the generational divide in 2020 and paving the way for a less divisive future.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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