What are intergenerational spaces and places?

Intergenerational spaces are to put it simply, spaces that enable people of different generations to meet and build relationships. An intergenerational space can be created in an older building, a park, a hospital, a school. The only limit here is your imagination. Intergenerational spaces are different from all age spaces because they prioritise relationships between people who would otherwise have never met. For example a young child and an older person in a care home. They can be small (such as a single community garden plot) or large (such as dedicated and permanent intergenerational nurseries) and they be temporary or permanent.

Within Generations Working Together one of our roles is to support and develop intergenerational spaces and over the last few years we have been fortunate to see various projects starting across the UK with the intention of bringing generations together in a dedicated intergenerational space. Just last month a new space has been announced within Newhaven which was created as a result of the community rallying around the oldest Victorian school in Edinburgh. The new space called Heart of Newhaven will ensure that younger and older people can come together in the community as the pandemic lifts. The organisers recognised the damage that can happen when people are no longer able to connect and have been successful in gaining funding to develop their innovative idea. Another space that will have intergenerational connections at heart is the Methill Care Village. A Fife-based care home that will be an anchor within the community with dedicated community space, links to local schools, and more.

There are also established intergenerational spaces that have stood the test of time. One is the Apples and Honey Nightingale nursery in London. This was the first nursery of its kind as it created a permanent facility for both children and older people to interact in 2017. One of the fascinating facts about the nursery is that it sets 20% of nursery places for the children of staff members and this has, in turn, stimulated community connections and interactions. Within a year of opening the nursery was able to show cognitive stimulation in older people, increased wellbeing and health, and knowledge sharing between generations. To learn more about the benefits of the nursery, please read their report on their website (shorter version).

Another is the Raploch Community garden which aimed to connected younger and older people through nature. The Oak Garden is run by the Raploch Community Partnership and is often the first point of contact for the community and volunteers who in many cases go on to receive further training, support, and digital skills. The project seems simple but can make a big difference to the lives of volunteers and it also helps keep the community and nature vibrant, purposeful, and a joyful place to be. The intergenerational garden is currently looking for volunteers, so if you are based in the Stirling area, please get in touch with them directly on Facebook.

These examples show the difference that an event in a small intergenerational space can make. Often intergenerational spaces can become a part of an already established project, can help us save buildings that may otherwise fall into disrepair, and can bring us closer to our community and heritage. To learn more about intergenerational spaces and communities and how you can develop your own please visit our session at this year’s Doors Open Days at 1 pm on Friday the 17th of September. Please note that registration is free and bookings are limited. Please book on Eventbrite.