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Interview with Neville De Souza – Trustee, LinkAge Southwark

May 11, 2016

In 1616, Edward Alleyn took action to help improve the lives of his contemporaries, and founded the Dulwich we know today. At this year’s festival, at a panel discussion on 13 May in St Barnabas Parish Hall, we’ll be meeting similarly dynamic individuals from our community, and finding out more about what inspired them to act.

Neville De Souza is a Trustee of LinkAge Southwark and will be joining us on the panel. We asked Neville to talk us through what inspired him to make a difference.

What does LinkAge Southwark do?

LinkAge Southwark is a local charity dedicated to reducing loneliness and isolation experienced in later life. Our vision is to help nurture a community that allows older people to connect, interact and thrive.

Was there a watershed moment in your life when you became resolved to make a difference?

I was very dissatisfied with my working life for a number of years after University. I felt that nothing I did had much meaning and that every day was a sort of Groundhog Day where I clock watched until home time. In December 2004 I visited Thailand with my wife and shortly after we returned to the UK the Asian Tsunami struck. I remember thinking that life is too short and valuable to wish it away. In that moment I resolved to change things and handed in my notice to my employer. I started my own company with the desire to be more in control of my life and do things that were meaningful, that gave me a sense of pride. From that point there was a natural evolution to working with people and charities that make a positive difference to our community.

It’s not uncommon these days, particularly amongst young people, to hear of them wanting to make a difference and ‘give something back’ to their communities. As someone who helps manage an initiative that does just that, what advice would you offer anyone wishing to make a similar positive contribution to society?

Just get involved. Jump in and try it. Don’t be intimidated, don’t think of all the reasons of how things could go wrong, don’t think that maybe next week, next month, next year will be a better time. Do it now. Once you have taken the plunge, then you can refine what you want to do. You’ll discover the things that you enjoy, the things that you don’t and the value you can add. If you are happy and enjoy what you do, you will be better at it and make a bigger difference. The first step is to get involved.

Link Age Southwark carries out inter-generational work with local schools. How do school pupils and older people respond to each other within this initiative?

LinkAge work with three local schools and the work is incredibly popular with students and older people alike. We put on two computer groups where students share their digital skills with older people, helping them interact and connect in new ways. Also, some schools put on tea parties where they can have fun in a relaxed environment with older people and learn through stories and reminiscence. It is an experience that is hugely rewarding and increases the sense of community and understanding between older and younger people. Our intergenerational events are so popular that they have waiting lists. We are very keen to work with more schools in the borough who could run groups and help us fundraise.

How can people enrol to volunteer with Link Age Southwark?

The lifeblood of LinkAge are our amazing volunteers. They are the engine that drive our ability to reach more people, connect more people, to make a life changing difference to more people. Even if you just have an hour free a week, you can help by becoming a befriender, driver, fundraiser, or help run an activity group. You don’t have to give up your life, volunteering can be a small part of it that makes things richer and more rewarding.

Please give us a call on 020 8299 2623 or have a look at our dedicated webpages http://www.linkagesouthwark.org/volunteering.htm

For more details and to buy tickets to see Neville De Souza speaking at our event ‘Contemporary Radicals – following in the footsteps of Edward Alleyn’, visit: http://dulwichfestival.co.uk/product/contemporary-radicals-following-in-the-footsteps-of-edward-alleyn/

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