This is how best to cope in a crisis, from the WW2 generation

Tips on how to cope with the lockdown and its aftermath are being offered by people who lived through WW2 to today’s younger generation.

In recent weeks, 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore brought much hope to the nation, while the UN Secretary General said the coronavirus crisis is the biggest challenge faced by the world since the Second World War.

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As the nation marks VE day flat-sharing site SpareRoom advises how best to get through this period in a booklet written by those who experienced World War Two.

The war generation lived through intense hardship, abandoned streets, national anxiety, restrictions on movement, confinement at home, the cancellation of major events, food shortages and the need to live a very frugal lifestyle.

It’s these experiences that people in their 80s and 90s reflect on in the booklet, while passing on their sage advice.

Research by SpareRoom indicates 32 per cent of millennials and Generation Z are already seeking support from elderly relatives, with 89 per cent finding their words helpful.

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Sixty-five per cent say the conversations gave them new appreciation of the lives of older people.

Among the seven contributors to the booklet are: Hazel, 94, a nurse during the war, and her husband Gordon. 97, a tank driver who fought in North Africa, Italy and Greece.

Jacques, 83, a young man in occupied France who contracted tuberculosis and spent a year in isolation, is another, along with Colin, 90, who experienced the Blitz in London.

Selected extracts from the booklet include the following:

“Flatmates living together today need to become like a family. During the Blitz we had to look out for one another, from making sure everyone was eating enough to coping with the constant fear of bombing and the confinement at home and in air raid shelters.

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“The rationing of food was a big issue; bread and eggs were scarce, much like how certain items might not be as readily available in shops now. But as long as we look after each other, we’ll get through this” - Colin, 90.

“Young people today need to keep focussing on days ahead as this pandemic will not last forever. It is only here for a fraction of our lives. Make the most of being with or speaking with loved ones and cherish them. When things get tough go for a walk and listen to nature.

"After the second World War, our country was bankrupt, but everyone pulled together. Young people can make Britain great again as I believe they have the enthusiasm and knowledge to do so. Have hope for better days ahead.” - Ilene, 82.

“I was a child in France during the war, but afterwards as a young man I caught tuberculosis. At that time TB was very difficult to treat and so I ended up in a sanitarium away from my family and friends for a year.

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Despite the physical and mental effects of my confinement I was determined to stay active. Studying kept me busy and my mind active. Something else I found very helpful was having a daily schedule I could stick to – and I would recommend this to young people going through lockdown today.” - Jacques, 83.

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom director, said: “You can’t compare the horrors of a six-year global war to the current pandemic. But there are arguably some parallels in the way people’s lives have been turned upside down.

"Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to learn something, to remember what the older generation did for us and hopefully find the comfort we so badly need.”

The free booklet can be downloaded from the SpareRoom blog.

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