Meet Dr Ali Somers – our new Research Fellow for Intergenerational Linking

Hello! I am thrilled to join the Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking project.

As someone who is passionate about all things intergenerational, I think this project presents a meaningful opportunity to spark engagement between care homes and children across England, at a time when we will really need this connection most. The organisations we are partnering with over the three years of the project already bring their own expertise to what will be a very insightful journey, and I can’t wait to learn more. 

I have more than 20 years of experience working in community development as a practitioner, but even more so as a researcher and educator. My first volunteering role was when I was 15 years old, and I learned straight away the importance of building ties with one’s community. I am both American and British, and during my career I have worked in a wide variety of places and neighbourhoods – from Miami Beach, Florida (my hometown) to New York City, across Romania, and throughout the UK. 

In my academic career, I specialised in community development, social policy, and specifically social entrepreneurship and impact measurement. When on a break after having my son, I was approached by a friend to help her set up a new nursery in an residential care home for older people. My friend Judith and I then went on a multi-year adventure creating Apples and Honey Nightingale, which opened its doors in September 2017. 

From then on, I have worked exclusively in the field of intergenerational studies. I have spent the past couple of years working with a range of organisations piloting new intergenerational models in housing, primary education, and care homes. My specialty is in designing impact measurement and research frameworks for intergenerational projects. I use a lot of different methods, depending on the size and scale of an intergenerational project. However, the values that are at the centre of any research endeavour are to empower the voices of participants and share learning far and wide.

For this intergenerational linking project, we are using a mixed method case study design, using a variety of methods including theory of change frameworks and appreciate inquiry styles. What this means is we will regularly collect reflective learning from our local community brokers in our project areas across England. We will also capture insight at our collaborative Sharing Network meetings. Each area project will work with their communities to identify the elements of their story they want to share in their own words. 

In addition to this ground up approach, I will be exploring how each intergenerational linking project shapes and changes their local communities over the 18 month period. Our hope is that by capturing the learning in all of the areas taking place at the same time, we can create a body of knowledge to share with those interested in intergenerational studies. We will use this website as a space to communicate to our stakeholders the learning that takes place. 

Visit the project homepage to find out more about Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking.