“Grandmentors”: volunteering to help young people

by Fiona Ferbrache

“Grandmentors” is a project supported by the “Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme” (RSVP) aimed as bringing young people and older adults together.  It is based on the belief that the skills and experiences of over-50s could be used to help young people from difficult backgrounds to negotiate the transition into adulthood.  The project is designed to mirror the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

A recent article in The Times (Bannerman, 2011) illustrates how the project has enhanced the lives of two people meeting on a weekly basis.  While the younger of the two has received help from her mentor in terms of thinking about her future career, the pair provide one another friendship and have been exploring London’s attractions together.  There are plans to extend the Grandmentoring scheme over a period of three years and Manchester Metropolitan University is supporting it with a research programme (MMU, 2010).

This scheme highlights a sensitivity towards young people’s everyday lives and values, as does the work of Hopkins and Alexander (2010) who, in a special edition of Area, argue for a stronger research focus on young people’s geographies in future research.  Their article is concerned with the ways in which young people’s experiences and perceptions can be written into significant areas of geography: (i) politics and critical geopolitics: (ii) migration, mobility and asylum: (iii) nations and nationhood.  The articles contained in Area’s special issue pertain to these geographies.  Thus, in academic and political terms, young people’s lives appear to be receiving greater attention.

Bannerman, L. (2011) Adulthood: it’s so much easier with a bit of help from someone who knows it well.  The Times. 01 January, 2011 pp.30

Hopkins, P. and Alexander, C. (2010) Politics, mobility and nationhood: upscaling young people’s geographies: introduction to Special Section.  Area. 42.2. pp.142-144

MMU (2010) Can grandparents mentor teenagers? 15 June, 2010

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