Rebuilding Bridges


Rebuilding Bridges was developed in response to the effects of isolation caused by the pandemic, particularly upon intergenerational learning and the relationships between the old and the young, especially older adults living in residential care. It was designed to explore how the old and young could be connected without coming into close contact with each other, through the medium of music and song writing.
The project followed the intergenerational pilot intervention “Making Bridges with Music” which took place in 2017.
The intervention team included emerging artists and social musicians with several years of experience working in community settings with diverse groups.

Participants: Residential older adults in 3 care homes in Torbay& Torbay Childminders and the children in their care.
Ages: Ranged from 7 months to 100 years old
Numbers: Generally, 10 older adults , supporting staff, 3-4 childminders and around 10 children took part in each care home session alongside 2 musicians and 3 emerging artists
Activities: Three care homes were involved and each care home participated in weekly sessions, one hour long, run one morning a week for 8 weeks. Every session took place outside regardless of the weather.
The sessions were led by two social musicians and one emerging artist in each care home, who used a combination of music-making and arts methods to engage participants. The musicians and artists used a rich variety of materials (including instruments, paint, fabrics and crafts) to guide the creation of artistic artefacts, stories, and songs.
Childrens engagement was supported by their Childminder and the older adults were supported by carers.
Each weekly intergenerational intervention lasted approximately one hour (10:30-11:30am). The childminders arrived with the children, and everyone gathered outside the patio door, while the residents took a seat on armchairs that were placed in a u-shape formation indoors, so all of them could see outside. After every session, the intervention team reflected on the session for around 30 minutes; this included time to review the session and prepare for the following week.
The creativity in each of the sessions was driven by the responses of the participants and the musicians were led by their stories.

Benefits for the Community

The project aimed:
- To re-ignite and grow the intergenerational friendships that music-making can inspire, as we emerge from the pandemic, reducing isolation and loneliness in the community
- To explore different methods of non-contact connection to build confidence with regard to restarting intergenerational projects in the community
- To develop skills and knowledge of intergenerational practice for emerging artists, who will create their own artistic responses to the project and practitioners who received additional learning through CPD sessions

Benefits for the Younger People

- Most of the observed children in all the sessions showed clear signs of involvement and were happy and engaged.
- An improvement in children’s personal, social and emotional development which had been effected by lockdowns and a reduction in children’s social experiences
- An improvement in children’s speech & confidence
- An increase in interactions with others and improving confidence

Benefits for the Older People

- Across sessions the residents’ mood changes registering satisfaction and happiness increased.
- Positive effects on the social and emotional wellbeing of residents and young children
- An increase in motivation and interactions with others, with residents being excited and enthusiastic
- Reducing isolation and improving the wellbeing and confidence of older participants
- To use music and song writing to improve well-being and have fun and to provide an opportunity for older adults voices to be heard and tell their own story


The Rebuilding Bridges was funded primarily by Arts Council England National Lottery Fund, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Devon and Torbay Music Education Hubs and Torbay Early Years Advisory Team.


The project was evaluated by Kathrin Paal, Plymouth University and Lois Peach, University of Bristol who applied a mixed methods approach- ‘Rebuilding Bridges Evaluation Report’ – read it here.
An additional evaluation was carried out by Lois Peach – Bristol University, who applied a qualitative approach – ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ storying moments of intergenerational connection through music – read it here.

Local Priorities

The project focuses on the need to improve literacy and language in early years which has regressed since the pandemic.
The project also focuses on reducing isolation and loneliness amongst older adults, particularly those in residential care.

Scottish NPF Objectives

Although the project took place in England elements can still be measured against the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).