How one woman’s charity connected generations and made the world kinder
PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:19 20 November 2020
Imagine a world where no one ever felt lonely or isolated.
A world where friendships were formed across generations. A much kinder world where saying “hello” to a stranger is normal once again.
Well that is the world Kelly Lindsay not only imagined but one she is helping to build as the founder of the charity Friend In Deed.
The 39-year-old, who resides in the quaint village of Cawston, between Reepham and Aylsham, has been fuelled for decades by a desire to stamp out isolation. So a decade ago, she took the first leap into making sure that happened.
Friend in Deed is a Norfolk-based charity which creates friendships across generations through various schemes with the aim of reducing loneliness and promoting kindness.
It works by babies, children, and young adults visiting care homes, dementia cafes, day centres and sheltered housing sites with support to allow them to socialise and connect with the residents. The Little Visitors scheme works just like a parent and toddler group, but in a care home instead.
Miss Lindsay, who was raised in Norwich, said: “What I hope one day is that this is just commonplace and that a charity like us isn’t needed. One day, it would be nice if everyone just walks down to their local care home and says hello.”
After graduating from university in Liverpool, she started a trainee management career.
But when her nan was diagnosed with dementia, she moved back to Norwich to help look after her.
“When she went into a care home, she needed more meaningful interaction. Care homes should be part of the community and the residents should be part of that too,” she said.
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Miss Lindsay decided to train to become as a teacher and worked at schools in Liverpool. Then her dad became ill and she returned again to Norwich, where she worked in behavioural schools. But the drive to do something different was still there.
“I knew I wanted to work with older people and I loved seeing children do well too. But around 10 years ago, I still had my mind set on doing something that made a difference.
“I left teaching full time and did part time jobs instead. I did some supply teaching, events in a care home and different jobs that gave me the flexibility I wanted, while also saving up money.
“Eventually, I set up Friend in Deed as a community group on Facebook, People reached out and helped us do up a garden at a local care home.
“Later, I thought it would be nice if children came to enjoy the space too so I put another note on Facebook. One woman brought her child, who played with a resident living with advanced dementia.
“It was wonderful to watch and I just thought - this is it, this is how it should be.
“The youth of today are learning to be kind, and the moments of connection between older and young people is utterly magic. It is absolutely phenomenal.”
Miss Lindsay went on to set the charity up with thousands of pounds of her own money. It has since developed and grown across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
Previous projects include setting up an intergenerational choir, which sang at The Forum.
The pandemic has also brought with it new challenges for everyone, and Friend in Deed has had to adapt and develop, using tools such as video calling, to continue the progress it has made.
Friend in Deed is also part of this year’s Aviva Community Fund with its All Ages Love Learning project. People can leave a donation to help connect more pupils with residents in care homes, by supporting the creation and delivery of a brand new scheme of intergenerational learning.
For more information about the charity visit www.friendindeed.org.uk or search on Facebook for Friend In Deed Norwich or Instagram @friendindeedinsta
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