PSHE GCSE: The gym bringing young and elderly people together

This video looks into making connections across the generations.

Some 3.6 million people in the UK live alone, including more than 2 million who are aged over 75, according to the charity Age UK.

It says 1.9 million older people describe feeling “ignored or invisible” and that loneliness is associated with health complaints such as depression, sleep problems, stress and mental health issues.

In the video, we meet young runner Vivian, who regularly visits 78-year-old Londoner Dennis as part of a project organised by the Good Gym charity.

Dennis describes how old age “crept up” on him, leading him to “give up”, but that Vivian’s visits have given him back his pride.

For Vivian, the visits do not just give her a “feelgood” factor.

She says listening to Dennis not only teaches her about his life but allows her to find out things she never knew about London.

This clip is from the BBC's 'Crossing Divides' project.

Teacher Notes

You could begin by asking pupils how much contact they have with older people.

How much contact do they have with grandparents, other relatives or family friends?

If they think about an older person, what is their situation? Do they live alone?

How much contact do they have with the outside world?

If they know someone who has only occasional visitors, ask how they would feel if they spent a similar amount of time with friends or relatives.

Do the pupils spend time alone with that person, or are they always with other people? Do they ever talk one-to-one with that person?

If so, ask about the kinds of things they talk about with that person. Do they just talk about their own lives, or things that are going on in the present, or do they ever ask about that person’s life?

Have they ever learned anything from that person?

Has anything they have said about their life – perhaps something from their past – taught the pupils something relevant to their own life?

Loneliness does not just affect elderly people. Can the pupils think of anyone else who might be lonely? How would they feel in that person’s situation?

Ask whether they have ever tried to spend time with that person, and whether they might enjoy it or learn something interesting from them.

Curriculum Notes

This clip is relevant for teaching PSHE at GCSE,in particular for Identity and Diversity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and for Modern Studies at National 4/5 in Scotland.

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