North Edinburgh Intergenerational Project


The project’s special interest lay in dealing with and lessening conflict between younger people and older adults through helping to build skills in dealing with conflict positively. In May 2009 an Intergenerational Day was celebrated in Muirhouse Millennium Centre attended by thirty-four 12 to 16 year olds and twenty-nine adults aged 60 and over. The aims were to increase understanding between generations, identify local issues and possible solutions. The focus was on community safety, perceptions and respect.

To achieve this, local volunteers needed to train as community mediators and be supported. Six people passed the first course followed by five more. Young people at the Muirhouse event suggested producing a DVD about growing up in North Edinburgh as a great way to foster better understanding between the generations. The ‘Nip Crew’ was formed and funded by the City of Edinburgh Council and Generations Working Together. They produced a DVD called ‘Not seen, not heard’. The ‘Nip Crew’ came from different parts of North Edinburgh. Now ‘Tea and coca-cola dances’ are organised monthly and are attended by 40 – 45 older adults and 14 younger people who would not otherwise meet. [Picture: Martello Court, a distinctive highrise development in Muirhouse]

The Project is managed by Sacro – an organisation that provides a range of Community Mediation, Youth Justice and Criminal Justice services to reduce conflict and offending. These include enhancing community safety and addressing harm caused by crime, drawing on restorative justice principles. Sacro services are based on research evidence, user feedback, international standards of good practice and a commitment to development and innovation. The N.Edinburgh project was funded from January 2009 to March 2010 by Sacro and the Lloyds TSB Trust. Despite the success of the project, no on-going funding has been identified at this point.

Success stories

First Tea and Coke Event

  • The initial aim to deal with a minimum of five conflicts a year was significantly exceeded with an additional ten conflicts successfully resolved.
  • 97% of the people who attended the event in Muirhouse felt they had an opportunity to discuss the changes they wanted personally and for the wider community. 89% rated the day 10/10!
  • When the project started, the perception was that most people felt unsafe in North Edinburgh. While there are disruptive elements on both side of the age divide, this perception has now changed. A community spirit has emerged but it needs to be nurtured.
  • People have skills but recognise the need to develop these and like the idea of using them to benefit their local community.
  • The project was a local service delivered locally – using shop-front premises, venues on bus routes and it avoided using jargon. People saw themselves as ‘a light bulb, not a chandelier’!
  • Face to face contact between people was also vital.

The success of the project became apparent as informal contacts began to happen between younger people and older adults. They began to see each other as ‘Betty – not Mrs Cranky’! They derived inspiration from each other and began to recognise changes in themselves and their own perceptions.

Key Benefits

  • better understanding of local issues
  • more confident in speaking to others in the communities, regardless of physical characteristics or status, e.g. age, colour, tallness, a professional person
  • having a better understanding of their rights
  • access to training in mediation skills – a useful skill regardless of age. [Photo: Muirhouse contains a mix of housing types]

Some Challenges

  • the difficulty of providing suitable transport with special access that some older adults require but not ‘the disability bus’ – an unappealing concept to many younger people
  • issues around disclosures and funding.