Generations Growing Together


An exciting garden project developed in partnership with Voluntary Action Orkney’s Connect Project and Adult Befriending Service to encourage different generations to work together and develop relationships that will break down barriers. The aim of the project was to encourage intergenerational working within the Orkney community to break down perceived barriers and promote therapeutic and beneficial activities that all involved would benefit from. Young people would develop transferable skills and gain confidence and self-esteem. Residents would take part in therapeutic activities and have the opportunities to communicate and socialise with others, hence reducing social isolation.

The gardening project allowed both generations to be involved with therapeutic activities in which everyone learned new skills from each other. The aim of the project was to work together to produce flowering displays for each of the resident’s homes in Eunson Kloss. The project allowed all ages to mix and socialise regularly with people they would not normally do so and develop communication skills, confidence and self-esteem. Due to the on-going nature of this project, relationships were forged, people were more relaxed and everyone enjoyed themselves.

The project started with a Coffee afternoon for residents and young people to meet to discuss ideas and raise funds to buy pots, seeds etc. The first planting session took place at the end of November 2010 growing plants for the flowering pots in spring. The second planting took place in June 2011 in the young people’s allotment growing plants for the summer flowering pots and the third planting session took place in November 2011 growing plants for the spring flowering pots in 2012.

Benefits for the Community

  • Perceptions of younger generations have been positively influenced – In the same way as within many communities, many of the older generation have very negative perceptions of young people believing that all young people are scary and are involved with anti-social behaviour. This is an image that is perpetuated by national media. It was hoped that by running this project that many of these perceptions and beliefs would be challenged in a positive and constructive manner.
  • 10 young people from the Connect Project have developed skills and have gained a significant sense of achievement – the young people fall into NEET and often have significant barriers to being part of the local community. Many of the young people need to develop skills including motivation, communication, working with others, confidence and self-esteem. The young people were asked to take part in the activity as part of their Connect timetable.

Benefits for the Younger People

  • Improved perceptions of older people – Many of the young people have little or nothing to do with the older generations within their community and have negative beliefs due to lack of knowledge.
  • Developed many transferable skills which will help progress the young people in the future.
  • Increased level of confidence
  • Improved communication skills
  • Renewed sense of pride

Benefits for the Older People

  • Reduced isolation – 15 residents from Eunson Kloss took part in the project. Many of the residents were socially isolated and did not have the opportunity to mix with others on a regular basis. The residents were invited to the sessions through Social Services and Voluntary Action Orkney’s (VAO) Adult Befriending Service.
  • Enjoyment from looking at the flower pots and getting to know the young people


Evaluations for the young people were completed during their monthly reviews. The ultimate outcome is that all the young people involved with the project, although nervous at the beginning have enjoyed the project. All reported increased levels of confidence and believed that they communicated well with the residents. The young people reported a sense of pride in the project and believed that they have done something to benefit their community.

Evaluation from the residents are carried out through Social Services and completed every 6 months. Feedback is then passed to the Adult Befriending Co-ordinator. On a more informal note the Co-ordinator is with the residents on a regular basis and many residents expressed how much they enjoyed the sessions and were keen to repeat the activities.

Outcome evaluation: What were the outcomes for all generations involved, and the community?

All people involved enjoyed the session, gained skills and confidence and are more tolerant of each other. The pre-conceived perception of each generation have been challenged in a practical and constructive way and this has led to people working well together and enjoying each other’s company. There has been many fantastic flower displays around the homes of the residents during the spring which not only benefits the residents but also the community. This will hopefully continue throughout the summer months.

Process evaluation: What worked well? What could be done differently in the future?

The process on the whole went well. On the first potting session the composting was very messy and time consuming. However on the second session the young people collected all the pots and had made colourful numbers for the pots. This allowed the pots to be filled out side and then transferred to the appropriate person for re-potting. This was a far more efficient way.

Again the young people had planted seeds so they would have plants to put in pots with residents. However some plants were not big enough to use. We have therefore starting plants for the next session much earlier to allow the plants to mature in time.

Next steps

The young people have enjoyed this project and feel they have developed many new skills as well as giving something back to the community. The young people have therefore been responsible for setting up a new project in which they are producing a recipe book in conjunction with the residents of Eunson Kloss. It is hoped that the sales of the book will raise funds for further intergenerational activities.

Also 4 young people are taking part in Intergenerational Group Befriending training with VAO’s Adult Befriending Co-ordinator with the hope to set up a group that will go to other residential homes within Orkney and promote intergenerational sessions and activities.

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF)

Scottish NPF Objectives

The main NPF objectives that this project contributes to is:

  • Smarter will focus on being better educated, more skilled and more successful
  • Healthier will enable people to live longer and healthier lives

These NPF objectives could also apply:

  • Safer and Stronger aims to help local communities to flourish and become stronger, safer places to live.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older, and are able to access appropriate support when they need it: Providing high quality care and support to an ageing population is a fundamental principle of social justice and is an important hallmark of a caring and compassionate society. Collectively we need to give priority to ensuring that older people receive the care, compassion, support and dignity they need and deserve.

We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others: Being part of a strong community gives us the support we need locally. It minimises crime, antisocial behaviour and their social and economic costs.