Interfaith week highlights the need to connect generations

Connecting generations may seem natural and obvious, but in fact over the last three decades, the barriers between generations have grown as our lifestyle and work patters have changed. In Scotland we are now less likely to live with our grandparents or have contact with our grandparents. We also have less contact with our neighbours and spend more time alone and according to the Campaign to End Loneliness, being lonely increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%. The age segregation in our society creates social challenges including rising childcare, social care and isolation.

One way to tackle some of these challenges is through planned intergenerational projects. An intergenerational project brings normally together younger and older people (although anyone with a 20 years age difference can be counted as being from a different generation). The main aims of projects being friendships, new skills and increased health and wellbeing for both age groups. Generations Working Together is a national Scottish charity which works to encourage the growth these projects and provides help and support to anyone thinking of starting one through local networks.

A few Scottish examples include Anam Cara, Raploch Community Partnership and Men’s Sheds. Anam Cara is a dementia respite unit, Ayrshire who facilitate a range of activities including an intergenerational quiz with residents and local primary children.

The Raploch Community Partnership organises community gardening to connect the older and younger generations, as well as employability skills and ICT classes.

Men’s Sheds is a UK wide project that brings men of all generations together to make and mend, it has recently expanded at a fast rate in Glasgow and includes East and South sheds.

Intergenerational projects are varied and can work in a variety of settings, the key aim is to bring the community together.

Generations Working Together works to highlight projects like these and to show positive stories about intergenerational work and ageing. We work with a wide range of people, organisations, representatives and the press. Local network meetings are held across Scotland encouraging groups and organisations to come together to learn more about planning, creating, running and evaluating a project. Anyone can join a meeting and our membership is free, you’ll get the opportunity to share ideas, stories or projects and learn how to evaluate and grow it.

We provide support in all local authority in Scotland, including in Glasgow with 22 networks overall. Each network has about three meetings per year and the whole community is invited including individuals, local organisations, education and care professionals for the area. These meetings rotate around (for example in Glasgow they take place in South, East and West/Central), but everyone from any area of Glasgow is invited to all the meetings. These meetings can be helpful for people new to their role or area, but are also useful for people who want to learn how to bring their communities together. Faith groups are encouraged to come along to the groups and we would like to work with more churches and volunteers in the future.

For those more interested in learning about intergenerational practice in more depth we offer training courses that cover theories, policy and project management. Our popular one day intergenerational training for practitioners is aimed at anyone interested in running an intergenerational project. Be that in school, community or care home. The training is CPD accredited and takes place all over Scotland throughout the year. We also deliver online training called the International Intergenerational Certificate with the University of Granada. This is a six week training course with tutors that helps people embed intergenerational practice within their work, the course can be done from anywhere and currently runs two times a year.

Intergenerational practice is a great way to bring people together in the community, it’s fun and it tackles barriers in our societies. It can also be a way to connect people of different backgrounds, religions and neighbourhood. Generations Working Together can help with advice, networking and inspiration. Join us as a free member online and read our current case studies and resources on our website www.generationsworkingtogether.org. If you have any ideas or questions please contact Kate Samuels or call on 0141 559 5021.

This article was originally published on Interfaith Scotland website.

21st November 2018