We’re an exciting social action project that is linking together young people aged 5-14 from schools and youth organisations with older people living in care homes across England.
What are our aims?
By giving young people and older people living in care homes the opportunity to come together to share in new experiences, learning, stories and laughter, particularly individuals that otherwise may never meet, we seek to strengthen community connection and deepen understanding of each other and how we all live together.
We also aim to improve young people’s confidence and develop their leadership skills, as well as reducing isolation and creating a world where care homes are truly connected to their communities.
Over time, we hope that younger and older people will form meaningful intergenerational relationships that are mutually beneficial and that long-term, sustainable links will develop between the schools, youth groups and care homes.
The first two projects started in 2020 and are run by Alive in Bristol and The Linking Network in Bradford.
We’re delighted to announce nine more projects that will be starting in April 2021.
Find out more by clicking each title below:
Alive aim to enrich the lives of older people in care. Alive have seven years of experience running successful intergenerational projects across the South, linking young people with older people living in care homes to work collaboratively together on a range of projects. These have included creating artwork, doing horticultural and agricultural activities, sharing life stories and experiences, developing life skills and spending time socialising.
Their project so far
Alive’s Intergenerational Linking project started in August 2020 and is based across East and South Bristol. They are linking Bristol young people, including those from local youth groups, with older people living in care homes. A key focus of this work is to promote social action across the generations, empowering both younger and older people to have a positive impact on their environment and the community.
Alive’s project is using the idea of #OneGoodTurn and has been successfully forging new connections through the pandemic, despite all the difficulties posed by COVID-19, by inviting participants to perform ‘good turns’ for each other and boost each other’s wellbeing.
Over the festive period they ran a “Jars of Joy” initiative to share hope and kindness and to demonstrate solidarity with older people living in care homes and show that the community was thinking of them. Both younger and older people filled jars with poems, jokes, treats, decorations and artwork, before sending them off to others across the city. In total 179 jars were exchanged across the generations to postcodes all over Bristol! Some people living in care homes also chose to make wellbeing boxes and hampers to take to the local foodbank. From there they went to pupils and families at a nearby school and were very appreciated.
At the start of 2021 the project began a focus on intergenerational resolutions. New participants and those already involved were invited to pair together across the generations to pledge their ‘one good turns’ for 2021. The pandemic and repeated lockdowns have demonstrated the importance of community connection and solidarity more than ever, and Alive hope to focus on more intergenerational activities and positive acts this year that are collaborative and involve giving back to one another.
Leading Alive’s project is Harriet Blackmore. You can find out more about Alive's project here.
The Linking Network currently deliver an extensive Schools Linking programme in Bradford that supports classes from over 100 primary and secondary schools to link together and learn about identity, diversity, community and equality. They are also a project partner. Their Intergenerational Linking project will add another new strand to their linking work: different schools across Bradford will be paired with local care homes and supported in a programme of engagement through the academic year that will encourage those involved to ‘share their story’ with each other.
Their project so far
In the Autumn Term, staff from the linked school and care home came together in a virtual meeting to find out more about each other and to plan the first phase of the link.
Back in the classroom, teachers introduced the project to their classes. To support this, The Linking Network created resources for teachers to help children explore what a care home is and who might live and work there. Children then thought carefully about their own identity and stories before creating cards and messages to introduce themselves to the people living in their linked care home. Care home staff also supported the residents living in the care home to send their own messages to the children at the linked school.
Children were excited to find out the stories of each of the residents they now had a connection to and have loved receiving messages back – for example from Willow Bank Care Home who sent through a lovely series of photo messages to their linked school as a way of introducing themselves. One class were amazed to learn that Margaret went to the same school as them when she was a child!
Many of the links have continued throughout the challenges posed by lockdowns and home schooling, including exchanges of Christmas cards and beautiful artwork. As children and young people begin to find out more about the residents of their linked care home, they will be encouraged to take ownership of the next activities in the project.
Leading The Linking Network’s project is Amy Lock. You can find out more about the project here.
A school-based service funded through the local authority, The Curriculum and Language Access Service (CLAS) in Bury (Greater Manchester) works to raise the expectations of minority ethnic pupils in mainstream classrooms. CLAS works in partnership with schools to ensure equality of opportunity in education and create effective educational provision for pupils with English as an additional language (EAL), refugees, asylum seekers, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and other ethnic minority pupils at risk of underachieving.
CLAS provides several training opportunities within educational services, including CPD training on promoting cultural diversity and supporting schools to promote equality and cohesion through an inclusive curriculum which ensures pupils of all backgrounds are prepared for life as active citizens of a diverse local, national and global community.
CLAS works directly with children and families who live in areas of economic deprivation, are marginalised within society and have limited opportunities for access to education, employment and leisure activities. CLAS works with these children, families and other organisations to support participation in school life, reduce inequalities and create social inclusion, including organising school and community linking activities to promote community cohesion.
Building on the success of this work and prompted by the growing number of children struggling to engage in and fully benefit from education, CLAS have recently begun a significant expansion of their community-based work. Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking fits very well into CLAS’s expansion and reflects the key organisational aims and values; offering children the opportunity to be part of community-based activity which promotes social inclusion and develops communication skills, empathy, confidence and self-worth.
CLAS hopes their new intergenerational project will create a place of fun and safety, and give participating children and older people living in care homes lasting positive relationships and a place in their local community beyond the immediate home environment.
Enfield Town Schools’ Partnership (ETSP) is a charitable organisation set up to advance the education of children and young people in Enfield, North London and meet their social and emotional wellbeing needs. ETSP works with 21 schools across the London Borough of Enfield.
ETSP’s main purpose is to educate children and young people so they have a wealth of expertise and transferable skills. They run a wide range of enrichment projects including art exhibitions, poetry festivals, debating and spelling competitions and science exhibitions. These are shared with a wider audience, promoting community cohesion. They also deliver programmes addressing complex social challenges faced by specific children which present barriers to their learning and/or are detrimental to their physical and mental wellbeing.
ETSP wants to bridge the generational gap between children and older people. Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking will help encourage their pupils to become more active members of the community and the leaders of tomorrow. Children and young people will engage with older generations they may not usually have the opportunity to mix with. This will help to advance children’s learning through lived experiences, as well as creating positive, long-lasting memories for all generations.
“Some of our schools already link with local care homes – from occasional visits and singing carols at Christmas, to drawing pictures and sending written messages. In the past others have invited older people from the community into school to share their experiences of growing up, work and hobbies. Our schools have successfully linked these intergenerational activities to the curriculum for different year groups. To develop these existing links with care homes, and create new relationships, as part of a wider, more inclusive project which could have a really positive impact on our community is really exciting.”
The main aim of Global Education Derby (GED) is to give young people the skills and attitudes to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing, globalising, and unequal world.
GED focus on the core life skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and citizenship. Young people are supported to increase their understanding about why difference of opinion and values exists. GED also provides training to teachers and youth workers which encourages thinking around approaches to education, participation, questioning and dialogue that puts young people at the centre of the learning process. GED have been co-producing and sharing significant educational resources based on their project work for nearly two decades.
Intergenerational work is an exciting new area for Global Education Derby. They currently run a successful school linking programme exploring identity, diversity, community and equality. They’ve also supported social action in small-scale youth and community projects. Global Education Derby’s in-depth understanding of both schools and of what it takes to create a meaningful exchange producing benefits for all will be so important for this project and will allow them to both offer and receive support.
“When working with young people directly, our principle is that activity should be youth-led, often working with unheard or ignored sections of the community to amplify their voices and let them tell their stories in their own way. We’ve used podcasts for local radio, showcased events, social action projects, and facilitated participation in local and national youth councils. We’ve provided opportunities for young people to gain direct experience and influence on decision-making through project steering committees with youth representation.
The framework for Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking allows us to apply our experience of other bridging activities in this new setting. The national network will support us in doing this, whilst also providing the specific expertise of working with older people that we currently lack. The rich sharing opportunities that come from being part of this sort of community of practice is a big positive for us.”
Leeds Development Education Centre (Leeds DEC) is an education charity specialising in supporting schools to provide an education which helps prepare young people for their future, and nurture values such as respect, co-operative thinking and fairness – values they believe are the foundations of a more socially sustainable, equitable and harmonious world.
They provide teacher training, resources and student workshops that foster greater intercultural understanding and encourage pupils to reflect on the ways they can be responsible Global Citizens. Intergenerational approaches are a key part of this – their recent Home Office-funded inter-cultural learning project was piloted with a group of young people and over 55’s.
Leeds DEC are experienced in working with young people to create and deliver their own projects, including ‘Cool 2 Care’ – young people aged 11-14 from different faiths delivered their own social action project in their local community. The ‘We are Leeds’ project brought schools and communities together to look at values, identity and discrimination. Children enjoyed games, craft and music, supported by volunteers from different communities. Local projects, including support groups for older people, also spoke to the children about their work. This led to a moving moment during a session where an older lady was speaking about her life. At the end, one of the children rushed over and gave her a big hug, a beautiful and precious moment for them both!
Through Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational linking, Leeds DEC will develop their existing relationships with schools and also build on their Schools Linking work, developing pupils' sense of identity, diversity, equality and community. They have a passion for bringing young and older people together and will support participants from schools and care homes so that they gain maximum benefit from taking part.
Plymouth Diocesan Trust was established for religious and educational purposes and is the charity of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth. The Diocese covers all of Devon and Cornwall and most of Dorset through a network of 67 parishes, 108 churches and a Multi-Academy Trust of 35 schools and 1 nursery.
This project will be led by the Caritas team who coordinate social action projects across the Diocese working in partnership with Plymouth CAST, the Catholic Multi-Academy Trust. Caritas supports a network of charities, schools and parishes, working in partnership to help poor, vulnerable and marginalised people. Caritas offers practical service to those in need, of all faiths and none. They support volunteering and befriending/social support networks and the Diocese runs a range of events and outreach to promote social action, including to reduce loneliness and isolation.
The Caritas Plymouth Strategy has an explicit focus on children and young people and older people and the isolated, both in terms of providing support to these groups but also enabling these groups to take social action. Their goal is to increase intergenerational relationships to bring about the social change needed for healthier older age in a rapidly ageing demographic.
“Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking provides an opportunity to build on our existing experience linking schools and older people together. We have seen for ourselves the benefits of intergenerational projects - enriching lives, developing new skills and giving a sense of living history to younger people and keeping older people connected to a rapidly changing world. Our long-term aim is to connect social action in parishes and schools to bring together our ageing population with young people in our schools. Through partnership with Plymouth CAST, we are also well placed to share project evaluation and learning across primary and secondary schools to inspire further action and outreach.”
Based in Cornwall, Sensory Trust is a national charity with a 25-year history of using the outdoors to bring health and social benefits to those with the least opportunity to participate in their local places and communities, including children and adults with disabilities, older people living with dementia, people experiencing loneliness and carers. Many of these have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 recently; losing support networks and experiencing increased anxiety and social isolation due to shielding for long periods.
Sensory Trust use the outdoors to connect people through immersive activities that lend themselves to sharing and low-pressure social interaction. Sensory Trust has also been sought to advise and shape policy for major UK bodies like Natural England and visitor destinations, like Eden Project and National Trust.
The Creative Spaces project started in care homes before moving to the wider community, and demonstrated how outdoor spaces connect residents with the natural world and care homes with their local communities. The project has supported over 1,200 people with dementia, 3330 carers and 3391 health and care providers since 2009, and was shortlisted as Best Health Project in the National Lottery Awards 2012. A collaboration with the University of Exeter also developed the ‘My Nature’ training toolkit to enhance the quality of life for older people living in residential and nursing care, by helping care staff build skills and confidence.
Creative Spaces Project Officer, Ellie Robinson Carter, has an International Certificate in Intergenerational Practice by Generations Working Together Scotland and University of Granada, and intergenerational experience with memory cafes and schools. This led to the development of an intergenerational activity pack connecting the Creative Spaces activity groups with local primary school pupils, as well as other initiatives. Residents proudly shared their experiences and were energised by spending time with young people, who themselves gained confidence in expressing themselves more freely with a patient, non-critical companion.
“Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking is an ideal opportunity to build on the intergenerational aspects of our young and older people’s programmes. It will enable us to nurture the skills and interests of older people in nature and develop a sense of pride; whilst empowering young people to take community action to support the environment, gain skills and increase their aspirations. Nature and the outdoors provide the perfect platform for older and younger to share experiences and we often see a shared playfulness and mischievousness emerge that is mutually beneficial and helps create a truly inclusive community.”
The St Philip’s Centre is an interfaith charity in Leicester rooted in Christian traditions which works across many different religious and non-religious communities. They aim to empower people of all faiths and none to encounter one another in meaningful ways, build understanding, co-operation and trust. They nurture respectful and resilient individuals and also support leadership in faith communities.
The St Philip’s Centre work in partnership with a wide variety of individuals, groups and professional bodies, to encourage and model relationships of trust across difference. They do not shy away from difficult topics, running seminars on issues such as spiritual abuse. They have also been a delivery hub for the Near Neighbours programme since 2011 (funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), and have wide ranging experience in bringing people together across differences of age, ethnicity, religion and social class.
In 2019, their work with schools and colleges, allowed 12,000 young people aged 5-18 to meet with people of different faith and belief perspectives. They also participated in Mitzvah Day, a community focused social action day initiated by the Jewish community. The St Philip’s Centre has also hosted the Leicester School Linking project since 2018, facilitating meaningful encounters between pupils and students of different faiths, heritages and backgrounds.
Through Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking, The St Phillips Centre is establishing a new initiative, “Intergenerational Linking: Leicester”. Leicester is unique in its diversity and through this intergenerational linking work, Intergenational Linking: Leicester hopes to build cross generational connections between and within communities, challenge stereotypes and repair divisions exposed and exaggerated by COVID-19.
Currently, The St Phillips Centre has some experience of working with older people living in care homes, focused on infrequent links - primarily in response to requests from care homes for a visitor (for example to explain about Diwali celebrations to residents) – and are excited to grow these relationships further.
Windmills Foundation is a Sefton based charity working within Liverpool City Region. It empowers young people to realise their full potential and make a lasting difference as active citizens, by recognising their skills, talents, passions and values and using these to connect and contribute to their communities. With 10 years expertise of collaborating with 5,000 young people, 30 primary and secondary schools and 50 community groups, along with partnerships with Sefton Association of Primary Heads, Sefton Community and Volunteering Service and Sefton Council, the Foundation has co-created a portfolio of innovative social action projects.
Over 1,000 pupils within 25 primary schools take place in the SMILE challenge each year. Young people combine and share their unique talents to make a difference in their local community. SMILE projects generated by young people so far that have an intergenerational element include: organising bingo for older people, creating memory albums for people living with Alzheimer’s, ‘adopting’ grandparents, gardening/clearing up streets and teaching technology/social media.
The Words of Wisdom project targeted isolated and lonely older people in the community. Young people from schools and community groups provided acts of kindness to 100+ isolated older people, in exchange for gaining Words of Wisdom from their life experiences. 1 in 5 older people in Sefton do not see anyone for a month and the COVID-19 pandemic has likely escalated this. The Windmill Foundation recognise that older people living in care homes are particularly isolated, especially from interaction with young children, and are excited to be a part of Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking to create robust, long term links between care homes, young people, and schools/community groups and help combat loneliness in the Sefton community.
Woven Nest Theatre is a multi-sensory theatre company based in the North East working with older people living in care homes, including people living with dementia. Woven Nest’s members formed a creative partnership in 2019, inspired by their own experiences as individual arts practitioners.
Using drama techniques as a vehicle for creative engagement, they bring about meaningful connection, better opportunities and positive social change in communities and improve the health and wellbeing of older people. They are experienced community-led project facilitators, leading street parades, performances, garden/community space makeovers and exhibitions that involve a wide range of audiences including care homes, community centres and schools (including Special Educational Needs schools). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Woven Nest have created a multi-sensory functional film aimed to stimulate and engage older people with limited mobility and/or advanced dementia and also facilitated online workshops with schools and care homes which have influenced a piece of COVID-19 safe promenade theatre.
Woven Nest Theatre places emphasis on the creative process, with ideas driven by and from the community. Creating a ‘failure-free’ environment, people are supported to take creative risks and barriers to participation in arts activity are reduced. Co-production is very important and each project is different to the last. Woven Nest are experienced working out in the community, accommodating to the needs of participants and the people who support them, such as teachers, carers and activities co-ordinators.
“Through our workshops we know how transformative intergenerational activity can be. We’ve seen how a group of young people can bring a new energy into the care home - even residents who haven’t engaged in activities before are usually edging closer, eager to take part. Children and older people take part in activities that are designed to stimulate their imaginations, experimenting with story, character and play. Through the power of playfulness, we can open a door for conversation and relationship building between the young and older people. In previous projects, young people developed meaningful, positive relationships with older people. Residents began to engage in activity for longer and their moods seemed significantly lifted, even hours after the children had left. Teachers noticed how children developed empathy and leadership skills and how visits had a calming effect on their class. These workshops developed into long-term relationships that still exist now with letter writing, art exchanges and video calls currently taking the place of physical visits, during COVID-19 restrictions.”
Younger and older people’s voices are at the heart of this project and of equal value. In line with the aims of the #iwill campaign, young people will be empowered to develop their leadership skills and take ownership of activity, with the hope of helping inspire a long-term habit of engaging with social action.
Throughout the project, we aim to continuously capture the impact and learning so that we can share it with others. You can read more about our approach in this blog from our Research Fellow, Dr Ali Somers.
- Evidence-based and led by research
- Co-produced by young & older people
- Embedded into the National Curriculum
- Led by expertise working with care homes (My Home Life England) and young people (The Linking Network)
- Promoting great youth social action in line with the #iwill campaign
- My Home Life England is an international evidence-based practice-informed initiative that promotes quality of life and delivers positive change in care homes for older people. Care Home Friends and Neighbours (Care Home FaNs) is a national programme run by My Home Life England which “makes it easier for care homes to open their doors up to their communities, helping everyone to feel connected through meaningful engagement”.
- The Linking Network are the pioneers of the Schools Linking programme and support schools and communities to develop a positive, cohesive ethos by helping children, young people and adults to explore identity, celebrate diversity, promote community and champion equality.
- This project is funded through the #iwill Fund. The #iwill fund supports the #iwill campaign, which aims to make involvement in social action a part of life for a many young people as possible, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities. The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport are each investing £25 million seed funding to create the #iwill Fund.
- The Dunhill Medical Trust is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund. We are so grateful for their support.
We are looking for new members to join our current National Advisory group for this project. The Advisory Group meets a few times a year and helps to guide and support the work of the national project team. We particularly wish to focus on stronger representation from currently underrepresented groups. See more information here.
Resources for remote intergenerational linking
We’ve created a series of fun, step-by-step remote intergenerational linking resources, to encourage and support young people to connect with older people living in care homes, and keep younger and older people connected when face-to-face linking isn’t possible.
Visit the remote intergenerational linking page to download our activities!
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