The international congress looks to the future!
115 participants, 12 countries and 3 days of foresight were the ingredients of the 3rd congress of the International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor which took place from May 24th to May 27th at the Intergenerational Meeting Center in France.
Thinking up the future programs of Little Brothers of the Poor in 2040 throughout the world, in light of the main changes that our societies will experience: demographic changes, the explosion of the middle classes in the southern countries, technological progress, progress in medicine, evolution of the social links, evolution of the housing for the elderly .... This was the challenge of this congress!
Thanks to games, workshops, but also the speeches of Michel Camdessus (former director of the International Monetary Fund) and Louise Aronson (geriatrician and professor in the US), the members of the International Federation were able to realize how the simplest acts of love for others, human tenderness, closeness and long-term relationships are the most indispensable in making our world livable.
Far from belonging to times past, these acts belong to the future. They are the key to renewing social bonds and rejuvenating our world.
The work of the Little Brothers of the Poor is as useful today as it was yesterday in the fight against isolation for the coming years but each organization will have to adapt to technological, economic, social and demographic changes to best meet the needs of older people and volunteers.
These three days of foresight have also enabled all organizations of the International Federation to realize the importance of spreading similar programs in other countries, including southern countries, because they are needs. As well as raising awareness among the general public about the isolation of the elderly. Sam Dick, from Campaign to End Loneliness in the UK, showed how communication can move citizens and governments to take action.
Isolation is increasing everywhere, including in cultures that were thought to be safe from these problems. "This congress allowed us to discuss how we can develop more brotherhood and friendship, how we manage to mobilize citizens, how we manage to make society aware of this problem and how we make every citizen feel responsible for his elderly neighbors" (Armelle de Guibert, Chief executive of the Little Brothers of the Poor in France).
A minister of loneliness appointed in the United Kingdom
In line with the recommendations of a parliamentary commission, in order to combat the isolation that affects more than 1 in 10 people in the UK, a Minister of Loneliness has been appointed by Theresa May.
The goal is to fight against what she calls "the sad reality of modern life", which affects millions of people.
Tracey Crouch, Minister of Sport and the Olympic Games, will be in charge of the mission. « I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with, » the prime minister added.
A majority of people over 75 live alone in the UK, including about 200,000 who say they have not had a conversation with a friend or family member for more than a month, according to the British Red Cross.
The " Campaign to End Loneliness ", reports that most British doctors claim to see between one and five patients a day, who come mainly because they feel lonely.
Sources: AFP CNews, 18.01.2018
« More than half of men and women over 75 in Britain live alone. Three-quarters of older people say they are lonely, and more than a third of these feel their loneliness is “out of their control”. Most admit that they have never spoken to friends or family about how they feel. »
According to Robbie, 91 years-old “ loneliness is not having somebody to do nothing with. »
" Lonely people feel they should be connected, and if they feel disconnected, alienated, then that must mean they’ve made a mistake – or that they’ve been pushed into this by fate, or by something they’ve done. This can often involve a combination of paranoia and a very high level of judgmentalism about others. So they’re trapped both ways: they feel judged and they’re also judgmental. ”
Sources: The Economist - Maggie Fergusson « In solitude what happiness ? » - February – March 2018.
The International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor, which will held its international congress in May 2018 will have the privilege to welcome members of the Campaign to End Loneliness team to share about their awareness-raising work.
Remembering. A tribute that express the respect and recognition of a loved one.
The members of the International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor pay tribute to the elderly accompanied after their death, according to the practices and traditions of each country. Here are some examples.
"Here we can laugh at everything, even death".This old proverb sounds like a refrain all over Mexico and says a lot about the celebration of the dead, celebrated for millennia. The association Amigos de los Adultos Mayores put up an altar and decorates it with traditional offerings such as salt, water, flowers, candles and, sometimes, the favorite dishes of the deceased. Their photo is also displayed because not to remember a dead person in Mexico is like killing her a second time.
In Minneapolis, volunteers and employees of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly gather once a year to pay tribute to the elderly who died during the year. Candles with their names are arranged on a table. Then we celebrate their lives by recounting memories drinking coffee and eating some candy.
As for the Little Brothers of Quebec organize a commemorative day by going to a cemetery where the association have a vault. Then they do a traditionnal release of balloons, which fly away, carried by the lightness of consciences soothed.
These moments, experienced differently in each country or association, remind us of the importance of the action taken. The commitment and specificity of the little brothers of the Poor has remained the same since its creation, namely to alleviating isolation of the elderly and staying by their side throughout their remaining years. Commemorations are also important moments for volunteers to say a last goodbye to to the dear voices that have been silenced.
So little is needed to improve the life of another human being
#ConnectingGenerations is a charity event meant to bring together people of all ages, especially in the very special time that is Christmas. Mali Bracia Ubogich (Little Brothers of the Poor organization in Poland) aims at improving the quality of life of the elderly by breaking down the taboo and speaking openly about their loneliness.
Jakub Kucner (Mister Poland 2017) came up with an idea for a calendar with photos of celebrities along with seniors and volunteers. 13 Polish stars (journalists, models and actors) got involved in the project.
”It is a way of drawing attention to the problem of loneliness as well as engaging people in the prevention efforts. We never know what fate awaits us, what will happen in our lives and how we’ll spend the last years of our lives. Christmas is a very special time when no one should be alone” says Urszula Rogala, a volunteer of Mali Bracia Ubogich who co-organized the event.
Gathering together around the Christmas table helps to introduce ”normality” back into the lives of the lonely elderly and create a real Christmas atmosphere, regardless of the intergenerational barriers. Every year it is possible thanks to the donors and the help of the volunteers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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/
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.