Strive Wellbeing – Intergenerational Project


There was an increase in the referrals to the existing befriending service for older people in care homes. Loneliness and boredom can occur in care settings as people cope with bereavement, sensory impairment or memory loss. The referrals received indicated that care home staff were identifying the value of befrienders in addressing this need.

Simultaneously, increasing numbers of young people were keen to gain voluntary experience to help them get into work or further education. We felt that intergenerational befriending would meet the needs of both of these groups.

What did we do?

We visited a local care home to offer a weekly activity session with residents provided by a group of young volunteers, which would be supervised by a member of Strive staff. They were asked to provide a room for the sessions. A pilot project was then introduced over the summer holidays with a group of seven volunteers recruited via a talk given at a local secondary school.

Induction and dementia awareness training was provided for the volunteers by Strive staff in the care home. A weekly session then started on a Friday afternoon where a group of young people encouraged residents to take part in conversation and activities, which included charades, quizzes, singing, manicures, card making.

Benefits for the Community

  • Both groups now feel part of the community
  • Both now have positive links with each group
  • Social inclusion
  • Improved intergenerational relationships

Benefits for the Younger People

  • Improved chances in a challenging job market
  • Increased social skills and confidence, which will help them in a range of future work roles
  • They have positive links with older people from the local community, and better understanding of the difficulties facing older people
  • Increased confidence in communicating with older people

This project provides opportunities for young volunteers to experience what it is like to work with older people, learning good practice and how to apply to it.

Benefits for the Older People

  • Older people are more active in body and mind and therefore healthier
  • Older people have more fun, more variety and a better quality of life
  • Older people have positive links with young people from the local community


The Change Fund – The Scottish Government


At the end of each session Strive staff would complete an evaluation of the session with the young people to capture residents’ comments, what worked well and what didn’t, which helped to plan for the following week’s session.

At the end of the summer Strive carried out an evaluation with the volunteers, residents and care home staff. The care home staff and residents wished the sessions to continue. All of the volunteers wished to continue volunteering at the care home and we have now been running sessions for 2 years.

Quotes from young people:

“Sometimes you could see the elderly person’s mood change while you were there which was great”
“You have to be patient and listen to things more than once”
“I thought it would be a good experience for a career in health care”

Quotes from older people:

“I have enjoyed it; it makes us feel part of the community. It’s good to have a mixture of ages”
“It’s good to see the young people come in. It’s a very good thing”

Care home evaluation

“Residents are more settled during and after an activity. Long term benefits are hard to determine as our client group has advanced dementia but they enjoy the activity and contact at the time”.

Q. Are you aware of any different or additional social interaction between residents after the sessions?
A. Does provoke discussion between them and lightens mood.

Q. What is the general mood/atmosphere when the young people are in?
A. Very bright with residents enjoying the contact.

“We feel it is very positive and we enjoy the laughter and contribution the youngsters make to the Abbey. It keeps the feeling that we are building communities and preserving community contact.”

Next steps

Since July 2012 we have expanded from the original group in North Berwick, to five groups throughout East Lothian, and are planning to trial this work in two Sheltered Housing complexes in the near future.


March 2013 – Mental Welfare Commission – Principals into Practice award “Care and Support of people with Dementia” category

September 2013 – Scotland’s Dementia Awards – “Best Innovation in Continuing Care” category

Young people volunteering with us have achieved a range of Saltire Award certificates, varying from the 10 hour Approach award, to the 500 hour Ascent award

Scottish NPF Objectives

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

The main NPF objective that this project contributes to is:

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

This NPF objective could also apply:

SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

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 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.