Partner Story: Bridging the Generations
Bridging the Generations, Gwynedd Council was established in 2018 where the main focus was bridging the generations between Primary school children and care home residents in Gwynedd. Along with Kess II and Bangor University, a master's in research student was recruited to look at the implementation of intergenerational work and the challenges and obstacles facing intergenerational projects.
How do you define intergenerational activity?
The purpose of Bridging the Generations, Gwynedd Council is to create new connections between children and people of every age. This will increase the respect and understanding between the generations and create stronger communities.
How do you describe your organisation to someone completely new to your work?
Bridging the Generations have worked on projects involving different ages and settings. Whilst most of the project involved primary school children and care home residents we worked with secondary school children, young adults in further education, college, and university students as well as different community groups and individuals within the community. One of our favourite projects was our intergenerational choir which was televised as a programme for S4C the National TV channel in Wales.
We work creatively with artists to provide opportunities within the community and in 2021 we’re hoping to work on Friendship Benches across Gwynedd where the benches are co-designed by people of all ages.
The hurdles: What are some of the main challenges you face around offering your services?
One of the main challenges facing us in Wales is that we don’t have a national organisation like Generations Working Together in Scotland and Linking Generations in Northern Ireland. As a result, intergenerational work doesn’t happen as widely across Wales however Friend of Mine (Ffrind I Mi) in South Wales does excellent intergenerational work.
To further intergenerational work across Wales we work closely with Bangor University and Grŵp Cynefin (a housing association that delivers intergenerational experiences for their tenants) and have created an online network to connect people from across the country. The network is in its early infancy however we look forward to developing the connections further throughout 2021 bringing more opportunities for individuals, practitioners and organisations to get together to share ideas, skills, and experiences. We hope the network will develop new partnerships between organisations and see the creation of more intergenerational activity.
Last year, Wales also set its first Cross-Party Intergenerational Group who are looking at Intergenerational Solidarity. This is an exciting initiative for Wales which is strongly backed by the three commissioners in Wales – Future Generations, Older People, and Children. All three have supported Intergenerational work for years and have issued a joint statement noting the importance.
Hopefully, by bringing Wales together we will see more Intergenerational opportunities across the country
The rewards: What are some stand-out benefits of intergenerational activity for those you work with?
Our new projects were aimed to put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas! Our pen-pal scheme was set up and over 100 letters have been sent out before the end of 2020! We also had Christmas Boxes and Christmas Concert that certainly helped to put a smile on individuals faces during such a challenging year.
The people: Give one real-world example of a group that has benefited from your intergenerational work in the past 12 months and the changes you have seen for them since taking part.
Top tips: What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in an existing intergenerational project or looking to start their own?
Our top tip would be that it’s more important than ever for people of all ages to get together. We’ve been divided over the last year and most Intergenerational activities have come to a halt. However, intergenerational work doesn’t have to be face to face, in 2020 we had to adapt how to best support whilst in lockdown. We have shared ideas on our social media sites and will share a new handbook with you shortly, hopefully, there will be plenty of ideas that everyone can get involved with!
How can we find out more about your work and how to support you?
To join the Welsh Intergenerational Network or take part in the Cross-Party Group please get in touch with Mirain Llwyd Roberts.