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Thanksgiving: one of the most important time of the year

It’s one of the most important holidays in the United States. Family members get together in joy and good mood. And its also a day when people do not forget to help those in need.

That’s why the orgganization Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly organizes a meal each year to allow isolated elderly people to enjoy this holiday and find themselves in a friendly environment.

The 7 chapters have hosted thanksgiving traditional meals where you could have the chance to enjoy the turkey.

 

Hundreds of volunteers made this celebration possible and allowed hundreds of elderly people to enjoy this moment during which they could talk, laugh, dance and share a good meal.

Leo Niemczyk, an elderly person from Boston, was asked where he would spend Thanksgiving if the event did not exist and he simply answered: “I'd be home in my apartment by myself”.

Those who could not join the parties were not forgotten: some home deliveries have been organized.

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The day of the Dead: a colorful day!

El día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is one of the most important day in Mexico. It starts on October 31st and continues until November 2nd.

This is the opportunity for Mexicans to meet up with family and celebrate their deceased around the altars installed and decorated for this purpose. They meet in the cemeteries, wash the graves, decorate them and play music throughout the day. Far from the idea of ​​a morbid and morose day but rather, on the contrary, a colorful day of celebration!

 

This year, this day is part of a very special context. Indeed, Mexico was hit by a terrible earthquake in September 2017, which resulted in several hundred dead and many injured. The three places of action of the mexican association were affected. One of their settlement, their car and some of the elderly houses accompanied by the association were destroyed.

Beyond the material losses, the people have been marked psychologically and the association allows them to speak about it.

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On 1st October, we celebrated the International Day of Older Persons

Hundreds of volunteers and employees swung into action in 10 countries to raise public awareness of the isolation of older people in our societies and to engage everyone.

Some highlights:

In Romania, the campaign mobilized nearly 500 volunteers in 28 counties across the country, which organized 70 events and donated 6,500 flowers to their elders. 50 partner organizations (companies, associations, public structures) took part in the campaign.

In Switzerland, the volunteers initiated the first distribution of roses in Rolle.

In Mexico,in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that hit the elderly and the volunteers of the association, and despite the trauma, they decided to have a symbolic action. They donated a hundred felt roses that had been made by the elderly.

 

In France, the campaign was marked by the results of a survey ordered by the association, which revealed that more than 300 000 elderly people were in a situation of "social death", that is to say excluded from the main circles of relationship (family, friends, neighborhood, associations). In addition to the distribution of 125,000 roses in 232 cities, a short film was put online to raise awareness of the phenomenon.

 

In Germany, in Hamburg, the association and its partners organized a big flashmob with people over 60, on a song created especially for this occasion. The party then continued in a famous music club which is usually mostly attended by young people. A way to give another image and another place to the elderly in our society.

 

 

 

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Amics de la Gent Gran celebrates 30 years!

The Foundation Amics de la Gent Gran celebrates its 30 years of action in Catalonia, with a slogan that reflects its attention to the quality of relationships with the elderly: "Since 1987 in good company". It’s been 30 years since the movement of little brothers of the Poor has been active in Spain.

This anniversary year was marked by a very beautiful exhibition that tells five stories through photographs and texts. It ended with a beautiful concert by one of the oldest children's choirs in Europe, which brought together more than 1,000 people,including volunteers, donors, partners and representatives from the city and the region. More than 500 elderly people attended.

It is also the year that the organization has chosen to launch its observatory of solitude, which aims to better understand the complex phenomenon of solitude in order to better comprehend the negative effects of unwanted solitude and to promote tools for its prevention.

Today, the Catalan organization mobilizes 1800 volunteers who serve more than 1500 elderly people.

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Our international seminar on expansion gathered 50 participants

Faced with the aging of the population, how can we develop our action to combat the isolation of the elderly? How can we raise awareness and mobilize more and more citizens in our 10 countries?

This question was discussed by 50 participants from all member organizations of the International Federation for the Second Expansion Seminar, held in France from 14 to 17 September.

After meeting teams of volunteers and employees in 5 regions of France, the participants met in Paris for 2 days to exchange their experiences and to think together about the solutions.

A meeting which was supported by the Franco-German Institute (dfi) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation, organizers of the "On y va" ideas competition, aiming to support citizen engagement in Europe..., which we had won!

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Let us love to the end!

"I was loved, today I live without love". This is the shocking slogan of this campaign to alert public opinion about the loneliness of the elderly.

The Little Brothers of Canada association wishes to make Quebeckers aware of the realities of elderly people living without love and in oblivion. The general public is invited to sign a declaration to join his voice with that of the association to call for an awareness and a societal debate on the isolation of elders.

To bring your support: http://www.aimonsjusquaubout.ca/ 

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First Anniversary of the new-born association in Romania

2016 has been the first year of the new-born Never Alone – Friends of the Elderly association in Romania. A year with a lot of questions, risks, doubts, but at the same time with a lot of hopes and motivation to reach many lonely elderly in Romania.

The organisation succeeded in bringing hope, friendship and a much needed helping hand to more than 1000 elderly in 5 communities in Romania with the help of 280 volunteers. They clocked in more than 11.800 hours (491 days) of volunteering in the benefit of elderly, within their homes, at retirement homes or during outings and group celebrations.

Volunteers made 2228 visits at home, offered practical help for the elderly with difficulty to leave their house more than 320 times, 174 elderly received material or financial support and together they lived 1380 of instants of recreation and laughter in retirement homes.

“We tried to bring joy in the houses of lonely elderly, to restore dignity and make them feel useful. Our actions would not have been possible without the help of les petits freres des Pauvres of France, our donors, sponsors, supporters and volunteers, whom we would like to thank. Their involvement and support gave us the confidence to believe in the change in behavior of our society towards the elderly, a change we crave for and that will continue to represent our constant concern.” (Anca Zavadescu – president of the association)

In 2017 we want to continue our activities and discover ways in which we can support elderly in other towns as well. We aim to ease the loneliness of 1100 elderly, to involve 300 volunteers in more than 12.000 hours of volunteering. We will continue our visits at the home of lonely elderly and the activities that ease loneliness in retirement homes, the support for Easter and Christmas, as well as our summer holidays. We will also continue our knitting workshops (with the Grandma’s scarf campaign – in partnership with Amics de Gent Gran in Barcelona) and celebrate the International Day of the Elderly with our Flowers for the Soul campaign.

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Sharing experiences: the strength of our international network

From February 22 to 25, 2017, members of the International Network of the Little Brothers of the Poor met in Rolle to discuss about fundraising. For the past 7 years, this annual seminar has allowed everyone to learn from others, to discover the realities and techniques of each country. Europeans, Canadians and Americans share the same concern: developing fundraising to serve more elderly persons.

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The health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Major media outlets in the USA are responding to numerous studies that illustrate the toxic effects of isolation and chronic loneliness on the health and well-being of the elderly.

In September and December, The New York Timespublished three articlesthat shone a national spotlight on the effects of social isolation. Just before Christmas, the Star Tribunefeatured a touching portrayal of the loneliness experienced by Terry, an elder friend, and the role Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly – Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter plays in her life to offset her isolation. And in January, NPR broadcast the story of Emil, who became isolated and lonely after suffering a stroke, and Shipra, his visiting volunteer who was matched to him through LBFE's San Francisco chapter. The story was then published in the Chicago Tribune.

The health risks of PROLONGED ISOLATION are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” - The AARP Foundation

These major media outlets are responding to numerous studies that illustrate the toxic effects of isolation and chronic loneliness on the health and well-being of the elderly. According to one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), loneliness is linked to decline in nearly every functional ability. Other studies reveal a connection to impaired mental performance; compromised immune systems; increases in vascular, inflammatory and heart disease; and an increased risk of death.

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The International Federation has welcomed two new member organizations

14 years after the Polish organization, the International Federation of the little brothers of the Poor has welcomed two young and dynamic organizations which fight against isolation of the elderly in Mexico and in Romania.

During its last General Assembly, held in November 4th-5th, 2016 the International Federation has unanimously decided to welcome the two organizations as new members. The Federation now has a total of ten members.

In Mexico, the organization, Macochoa Abrazar Amigos de los Mayores, founded in 2012, acts for the most vulnerable elderly people of a poor area of Cuernavaca, near Mexico City. Together with an adult day care, group activities and home visits are developing. In 2016, the action started in two new places (Miacatlan and Altavista). Altogether, they are around 30 volunteers and more than 80 old adults in the organization. 

 

In Romania, in 2006, after a meeting with the French organization, the Foundation of the Princess Margareta of Romania launched the program ”Never alone”, which aims to fight against social isolation of th elderly in Romania. With the support of France for the last 5 years, the program has developed rapidly and, by the end of 2015, the volunteers decided to create an organization dedicated to this cause and to call it Niciodata singur, prietenii varstnicilor (Never alone – Friends of the Elderly).
 
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Election of new president and treasurer

The general assembly of November 4-5th, 2016 elected a new president, M. Giancarlo RUSSO (Board member of the French organization) and a new treasurer, M. Luc VILLENEUVE (President of the Canadian organization), for 2 years.

 

>> Newsletter of the General Assembly of November 4-5, 2016.

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25-year anniversary of the organization in Germany!

Freunde alter Menschen e. V. hold a photo exhibition to commemorate the organization’s 25th anniversary.

Twenty-five friendships between volunteers and elderly people were portrayed in a very special way to commemorate this anniversary. The photographer (Birte Zellentin) had the volunteers sit in the favourite chair of the old friend they visit. Fifty impressive portraits were produced as a result of this.

It's been 25 years that Freunde alter Menschen e. V. works to reduce the isolation and loneliness felt by older people in Germany. The first office was opened in 1991, in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Today there are numerous offices operating in locations such as Berlin-Mariendorf, Berlin-Reinickendorf, Wedding, Hamburg and Cologne. 

The organization, which gathers over 400 volunteers and over 500 old friends, facilitates visitation arrangements between young people and the elderly, organizes events, operates a telephone advice service and offers advice on issues relating to old age.

In addition, the organization has been always committed to the development of age-friendly housing and created the first shared house for people suffering from Alzheimer disease.

 

>> Freunde alter Menschen e. V.

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A very nice celebration of the International Day of Older Persons - October 1st

Every 1st of October, the different organizations members of the International Federation les petits frères des Pauvres, celebrate in their country the International Day of Older Persons.

This year, hundreds of volunteers in 10 countries participated in different actions in public spaces to alert general public of the increase of social isolation and loneliness of the elderly in our societies. 

The aim is to arouse interest and to have always more people committed to alleviate isolation of the elderly, especially those most in need, so that they can find a role in our society again. One of the main challenges is to reinforce the links between generations. 

 


A brief insight:

 

In Romania, with the campaign Flori Pentru Suflet 2016, few hundreds of volunteers have offered flowers to elders in 21 regions of the country. 

 

 

 

 

In Madrid, the concept of AUTHENTIC TOURS is a good occasion to change perceptions: workshops are organized in which the guides are the elderly served by the organization; they can share their knowledge with the general public (as guide in a museum, by teaching how to grow vegetables in an urban environment or how to kneet).

 

 

   

In Mexico, Facebook was used to raise awareness at a large scale. Everyday of this week, a new picture was posted. 

 

In Poland, the youth got organized in order to offer 3000 flowers to the elderly of Warsaw, Poznan and Lublin.

In France, 90 000 flowers have been offered to passers in 220 cities and 350 locations.

 

In Catalunia, a huge festive march called LAS FLORES DE LA AMISTAD has been organized to raise awareness.


 

 

And also:

o Ireland: organisation of Olympics for elderly.

o Germany: participation in a big flashmob.
 
o Canada : mobilisation in several regions of Quebec and organisation of an intergenerational walk.
 
o USA: raising awareness actions, intergenerational meetings, visits and distribution of small gifts to elderly served. 
 

 

 

 


In France, the results of an opinion pool about intergenerational relationships show an interesting perception gap: 

45 % of the elderly are mostyl expecting signs of affection from the young generation, while the young generation (<35 years old) thinks the old generation needs primarily their help for tiring daily tasks.

Even though more than 50% of the French consider that the young and the old generations help each other, 2/3 think they don’t quite understand each other.

When the young generation meets with the old generation, both perception are changed. Marthe, a 19 years old volunteer for les petits frères des Pauvres in France, can tell: « Before, I saw eldery as persons... maybe not from an other world, but from an other time anyway. While now, I’ve realized that what’s important is the person as such, what she says, who she is (…). One of the old ladies I’m visiting told me the other day: « Me, I’m not an age, I’m a body and a soul ».

To read more about it (in French).

 

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St George’s Day is a significant time for the Amics de la Gent Gran in Catalonia!

On the 23rd of April, the main streets of Catalonia are filled with a festive atmosphere for the celebration of St George (Sant Jordi, Saint of Catalonia). The atmosphere is contradictory and highlights the loneliness experienced by the elderly; a tragedy which if too often silenced for the majority of citizens. The campaign “Roses against oblivion” aims to raise awareness among the general public. On that day, when Dolores and Maria, the two elderly people accompanied by the Amics of the Gent Gran (and the campaign’s protagonists) receive the visit from their friends (Journalist Albert Om and Singer-Actress Nina), it is evident for them that: ‘The most important thing is not receiving the rose but receiving some pleasant company.’

Social mobilisation in Catalonia: more than 4000 roses offered to the elderly!

On Saturday 23rd April, more than 1500 volunteers of Amics de la Gent Gran kept on the tradition and offered a rose and a book to the elderly they give company to throughout the year. This event took place in 11 cities of Catalonia, where the foundation is developing its social action. Prestigious personalities from the cultural, social and political world have also visited some elderly and everyone was invited to join the movement and offer a rose to an elderly person in its neighbourhood.

Thanks to the support of nearly 100 volunteers and dozens of employees from partner businesses, 1919 elderly people living in 31 retirement homes also received a rose on Friday 22nd April. In total, 4065 roses have been offered.

The purchase of a rose allows moments of companionship

This great voluntary action is linked with the foundation’s most important awareness and fundraising campaign – Roses Contra l’Oblit (Roses against oblivion) which started 18 years ago. It is an opportunity to encourage new volunteers to join the organization in the combat against loneliness experienced by the elderly.

Amics de la Gent Grant has sold 18 000 roses throughout Catalonia. The profits from the selling are wholly dedicated to supporting the programmes of the organization. These roses, made of felt and tissue, are totally handcrafted and contribute to a social rehabilitation project in a disadvantaged area of Barcelona.

The website www.rosescontraloblit.com is promoting the campaign's publicity. Everyone can share photographs of their roses in solidarity with the elderly. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the hastag #rosescontraloblit also promotes the campaign. To view the video of the campaign: Youtube

 

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Newsletter of the General Assembly 15-16 April 2016 held in France

The international Federation of the Little brothers of the Poor brings its decision-making bodies twice a year, spring and fall.  With the president, the delegates from the eight member countries form the Board and the General Assembly and ensure decision-making on a set of issues of mutual interest to the mission of the little brothers. They plan all the actions found to be relevant and useful to all.

The last General Assembly was held in April 15 and 16, in Gagny, France. Among the issues that were the subject of the work and decisions of the Assembly, here are some highlights:

 

·         After consulting all member countries and meet getting their approval, the General Assembly proceeded to the final adoption of the mission and vision of the Federation. These official documents will be available on the Federation website.

·         The Assembly agreed that these official documents, which require the support of its members, will be adopted in French, which will be the official version. The Board/GA will acknowledge the translations into other languages (English, Spanish and possibly others).

·         With regard to the International Charter, the Assembly adopted a version that must be ratified by each country. Delegates, members of the GA, have a mandate to come back to the next GA meeting in November with the confirmation of member countries.

·         The mandate of the Commission on the future of the Federation has been revised and the Commission has accelerated its work. More meetings will be held to propose recommendations faster.

·         Delegates received the representatives of Romania and Mexico, who wish to become members of the International Federation. They received the various elements of their applications and have listened attentively to their excellent presentations. A decision will be taken at the General Assembly in November. The continuous and valuable support of France who sponsors them, allows them to consider this new phase of their development.

·         The Assembly adopted an internal policy on crisis management for the benefit of its members. It is now in place to enable the Federation to respond rapidly to particularly difficult situations that might live its members and establish a process of assistance in different situations.

·         The financial statements of the Federation are healthy despite the exceptional deficit generated by the 2015 International Conference. However, because some funds were reserved for this Conference, the deficit was easily covered.

·         To enrich the participation of member countries in our bodies (Board and General Assembly), it was decided, on an exceptional basis, to reimburse the expenses of a second representative per country for these meetings in addition to the delegate. The results of the Commission's work on the future of the Federation will enable us to reassess the representation of the member countries

·         Finally, there will be elections for president and treasurer positions in November for a new term of two years. Their mandate will be subject to a call for applications. In due time, the information will be passed to the members on all aspects related to these elections.

President:  Pierre Asselin  

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