Well over a year ago I talked about a pioneering initiative to bring young and old together in south London – 30-place daycare setting Apples and Honey Nightingale.
The nursery shares the same site as Nightingale House, a residential care home in Clapham, and while there were UK nurseries which had ongoing relationships with care homes, it was believed Apples and Honey Nightingale was the first to have daily planned activities structured for children and residents together.
I believed it was a fantastic venture to get two very different generations interacting and appreciating each other and highlighted the positive benefits for both young and old alike.
Now, a new report reveals how greater interaction between older and young people can help tackle issues facing them both...and counter ageism in divided Britain.
According to think tank United for All Ages' report, 'The next generation: how intergenerational interaction improves life chances of children and young people' [INSERT LINK https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/98d289_b66eb9bbed7f4315a0920d34bf6a4896.pdf] urgent action is needed to tackle the worsening crises facing children and young people. It calls on every nursery and school, children’s and young people’s organisation and local authority to link with older people’s care and housing providers, volunteers and organisations and mobilise together for the next generation.
The report’s analysis of recent research shows the gap is widening on key indicators from early education and childcare to school achievement and social mobility, while young people report rising levels of loneliness and anxiety and are fearful about the future as services and support are cut.
At the same time, Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, particularly for the oldest and youngest generations.
The report highlights the growth in 2018 of projects bringing different generations together to mix and share activities and experiences and how these can give children a good start in life, raise educational attainment, change attitudes, solve tough issues and shape the future.
Some 20 national and local organisations concerned about improving relations between the generations – ranging from the Children’s Commissioner to Grandparents Plus – have all shared ideas and projects that tackle tough issues facing children and younger people through intergenerational interaction.
The report makes eight key recommendations:
- Every nursery, childminder, parent/toddler group, and children’s centre should link with a local older people’s care home or housing scheme – and vice versa
- Every primary and secondary school should involve and engage with older people in their community – from hosting older volunteers and services to linking with care providers
- Every community should explore opportunities to develop places where younger and older people can mix and share activities and experiences – creating 500 centres for all ages by 2023
- Every local authority should develop a strategy for building communities for all ages where meaningful mixing is part of everyday life – involving local people and providers
- Every children’s and young people’s charity and community organisation should look at how to solve tough issues facing the next generation through intergenerational projects
- Funders should support projects that promote positive relationships building trust and understanding between younger and older people – working with the media to rid Britain of ageism
- Investors should look outside the box of age-related silos to invest in imaginative co-located care, learning and housing schemes that bring younger and older people together
- Government should support and promote mixing between different generations through intergenerational care, learning, and housing, explaining why it’s key to creating better services, stronger communities, a stronger Britain and an end to ageism
Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages, says: "There is no bigger challenge than creating a better future for all our children and young people. The scale of the challenge in Britain is massive as the next generation faces a crisis in childhood and beyond. These issues can be tackled by action nationally and locally, not least by much greater intergenerational interaction between young people and older people.
"More meaningful mixing can create opportunities for children and young people – from building confidence and communication skills to getting the school ready and achieving potential for networking and social mobility. Bringing older and younger people together can increase mutual understanding and tackle ageism. By starting as early as possible in children’s lives, we can change culture and attitudes for the long term."