Grandparents club to share the love

The Grandparents Club: when you can't hug this online hub helps to share the love

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LEARNING CURVE: Like many grandparents Nonna Patti has needed to learn about Zoom and Facetime to keep in touch with her much-missed grandies.

LEARNING CURVE: Like many grandparents Nonna Patti has needed to learn about Zoom and Facetime to keep in touch with her much-missed grandies.

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Social media hub brings grandparents and grandkids together during COVID-19

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They might be called nonna and nonno or oma and opa or nanna and poppi or grandma and grandpa, but whatever they're called, they all have in common warm smiles, big hearts, open arms and unlimited love for their grandchildren.

The pandemic lockdown has caused much heartache for people of all ages but it's created a tsunami of loneliness for many grandparents separated from their much-loved grandies.

Time for group of eight "older" Aussie entertainers to step up, take centre stage and do something to help bring, joy, love and community back into the lives of grandparents, not just in Australia but throughout the world - and The Grandparents Club was born.

The club is a social media hub which brings grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids and even parents together to share stories, music, fun, laughter, ideas, recipes, love, games, photos, memories and hopes. Within weeks of its launch it had more than 20,000 members in Australia and as far away as the UK, USA, India, New Zealand and Europe.

"We're giving grandparents a voice," said one of the club's creators Nonna Patti (aka Patti Gilbert) who has 26 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, all who live distant to her.

"We're all musos and singers and we've known each other for a great many years," said Patti who lives on the Gold Coast. "We used to talk to each other about our children and then our grandchildren and then we started saying how much we were missing our grandchildren during the lockdown. We said lets start a grandparents club and the response has been fantastic."

It's been a steep learning curve for many grandparents over the last few months as they've embranced technology more than ever before. Chats with friends, children and grandchildren are now routinely held over Facetime or Zoom.

"It's a changing world," said Patti. "You have to keep up to speed."

Some grandparents haven't seen their grandchildren for months and have been worrying about when they would see them or even if they'd ever see them again. The Grandparents Club has helped to fill the void.


SHARING THE LOVE: Muso, drummer Poppa Calvin Welch from Sydney misses his little three-year-old granddaughter who lives in Illinois, USA.

SHARING THE LOVE: Muso, drummer Poppa Calvin Welch from Sydney misses his little three-year-old granddaughter who lives in Illinois, USA.

"We wanted to provide an opportunity for grandparents to share their love," said Sydney-based drummer Poppa Calvin Welch, who has a three-year-old granddaughter living in Illionois in the USA. "You put the love out there and you get it back 10 fold.

"It's all about caring and giving and sharing. It's about respect and knowledge and communication."

Not surprisingly, music is a significant focus of The Grandparents Club which has released it's first song featuring member Tony Williams, Hey There (Here's a song to make you smile) (ABC Music). Tony said he "wanted to write a song that was heartfelt, but also uplifting; to share that this is only for a time, and that things will get better".

The entertainers behind The Grandparents Club are all still performing, or were until the lockdown of pubs, clubs and events happened.

But this is not just a story about grandparent loneliness. It's a story about the impact that grandparent isolation has and still is having on the inter-generational family.

Grandparents are the primary providers of informal childcare in Australia and their absence has had a profound effect on the lives of working parents and their young kids.

Visit the Grandparent's Club at www.facebook.com/TheGrandParentsClub

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