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North East Connected

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Durham University students help bring generations together

ByDave Stopher

Jun 1, 2018

A SECOND World War veteran is learning new tricks, thanks to a Durham University project aimed at bridging the generation gap.

Stan Langman, 92, served in the Royal Engineers during the Second World War and later worked at Durham Cathedral for 17 years as a Special Service Steward.

But recently, his wife having moved into a nursing home, he began to miss constant conversation and companionship.

That was, until Durham University students began visiting him, as part of Student Community Action’s Generations Together project.

The project pairs elderly people in Durham City with student volunteers, who offer friendly conversation and a helping hand with household and gardening tasks.

Mr Langman now looks forward to weekly visits from Emma Clewett, a second year Sociology student from Collingwood College, and Sophie Wise, a second year Criminology student from College of St Hild and St Bede.

The students have shown Mr Langman how he can listen to his favourite orchestral music through YouTube and view photographs emailed from family members.

The connection has also developed further, with a regular exchange of letters, telephone calls and postcards. During March’s heavy snow, the students also did Mr Langman’s shopping.

As a token of his thanks, Mr Langman now hosts an annual garden party to celebrate his students’ graduations.

He said: “I can’t vouch highly enough for the volunteers’ services. There’s always someone to look after you.

“I would encourage all people living on my street without friends and family to take advantage of this wonderful scheme.

“Thanks to these visits, I’ve also perfected my tea-making skills. Apparently now I make the best tea in Durham.”

Miss Clewett said: “I’m really thankful that Generations Together gave me this opportunity to meet this remarkable man, who I can now call my friend.”

Katie Stobbs, Student Community Action Co-ordinator, said: “The Generations Together project is a great way to bring students and elderly members of the Durham City community together, in a way that both can enjoy and benefit from.

“Stan has become a really popular character among our students, and Emma and Sophie are doing a great job of helping him out.”

For further details on Generations Together, please visit community.dur.ac.uk/community.action