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I'd like to share with you a lovely story about a pioneering initiative that is bringing the young and old together in south London.

The 30-place full daycare setting Apples and Honey Nightingale is opening in September and will share the same site as Nightingale House, a residential care home in Clapham for around 200 elderly residents - many in their 90s and several over 100.

All male and female residents at Nightingale House in Clapham are Jewish. And although the nursery will be open to children 'of all faiths and none' there will be a Jewish curriculum and the setting will close early on Friday for Shabbat.

While there are nurseries in the UK which have ongoing relationships with care homes, it is believed that Apples and Honey Nightingale is the first where there will be daily planned activities structured for children and residents together.

Every day they will spend time cooking and baking, doing exercise and movement classes, music and arts and crafts.

Children - aged two to five initially, but this may be extended to include one-year-olds - and residents will also eat snacks and meals together.

I think this is a truly wonderful venture and a fantastic idea to get two very different generations interacting and appreciating each other.

There is no doubt there will be positive benefits for both young and old alike.

For little ones, such intergenerational interactions enhance their social and personal development.

Research also suggests that children who have early positive contact with older people are less likely to view them as incompetent, more accepting of people with disabilities and less likely to exhibit ageism. 

There is also a plethora of pluses for older people.

Numerous studies have linked social interaction with decreased loneliness, delayed mental decline, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of diseases. 

Socialising across generations has also been shown to increase the amount of smiling and conversation among older adults.

And, as many elderly people in care homes have families that live a distance, can't visit often or don't have family at all, such interactions must be a tremendous boost for their spirits.

The nursery, which will operate as a social enterprise, will be set in the renovated former nurses' quarters at the bottom of Nightingale House's garden.

There has already been a weekly baby and toddler group held at Nightingale House since January and before this the original Apples and Honey nursery had been visiting the care home for about 15 years, twice a term.

So sharing the same site is an extension of a mutually beneficial long-standing relationship.
Integrating nurseries with care homes isn't an established trend, but there are several such initiatives in existence across Japan, Canada and the US.

I hope that while this fantastic venture may be the first of its kind in the UK, it won't be the last.

In a society where old and young are often segregated, this successful mingling of the generations is the perfect inspiration for other settings to follow suit.