Call for 'shared sites' to bring young and old together

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A new report has called for the introduction of 500 intergenerational shared sites to unite young and old people and counter ‘age apartheid’.

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Lexden Lodge Kindergarten in Colchester visits Oaks Care Home

According to think tank United for All Ages in its ‘Mixing Matters’ report published today (5 January 2018), urgent action is needed to create 500 shared sites across the country by 2022 to tackle growing social divides in ‘Brexit Britain’.

In the report’s analysis of recent research, it found that Britain is one of the most age segregated countries in the world, particularly for the oldest and youngest generations, and said this gap has widened over the last 50 years.

United for All Ages made three key recommendations for bringing older and younger people together:

  • Building multigenerational communities: supporting community businesses, making public spaces more accessible, opening community facilities to all ages, co-locating childcare and eldercare schemes
  • Mutual support through two-way relationships: online mentoring of younger people, advocacy for older people needing health and social care, ‘homeshare’ schemes where younger people live with older people, increased interaction between grandfathers and grandchildren
  • Better communication between generations: establishing a national council for all ages supported by an intergenerational convention, building bridges between generations using arts activities and street parties.

According to the think tank, shared sites such as housing schemes for the elderly co-located with nurseries should be prioritised in the fight to beat age segregation.

The ‘Mixing Matters’ report highlights the growth of shared sites in 2017, including the first ‘care-home nursery’ at Apples and Honey Nightingale in south west London, and mentions the significance of the Channel 4 programme ‘Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds’ in raising awareness of intergenerational projects. 

Director of United for All Ages Stephen Burke said, ‘Brexit Britain is dogged by divisions – we are divided by class, income, race, geography and age. The mistrust that arises from such divisions is fuelled by the lack of connection between different generations. This can breed myths and stereotypes, misunderstanding, ageism and exclusion. That’s why we believe mixing matters.

‘The joy of mixing can unite Brexit Britain in these divided times. As surveys repeatedly show, older and younger generations have much more in common than some would have us believe. Now’s the time to make shared sites happen because mixing matters for everybody.’

  • Read an extended version of this story in Nursery World, out on 8 January.
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