Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world with lack of intergenerational connection contributing to some of the greatest challenges we face as a nation, from loneliness and anxiety to poor health, ageism and even the housing crises.
With one in three older people experiencing ageism, our rapidly aging population being at the heart of many of the challenges England is facing, and more than 1 million children needing treatment for serious mental health problems, action is needed now to turn the tide on alarming statistics and headlines.
Inspired by the pioneering work of Intergenerational Music Making (IMM) a group has come together from public, voluntary, and private sectors to develop Intergenerational England - a new initiative that will drive more cross-generational activity and help bridge the age gap to tackle our health and headlines:
- Half of the UK's adult population have experienced loneliness
- Loneliness may be as dangerous to our health as smoking
- More than 1 million children need treatment for serious mental health problems
- Aging population amongst the top three contributions to the pressures on the NHS
- 1.9 million job vacancies and 36% of 50 to 69 year olds experiencing age discrimination
- Housing Britain's rapidly expanding ageing population is an unmet challenge
Intergenerational England takes up the challenge set by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration in 2019:
"Intergenerational connection is at once a deeply personal and political issue. Building a society in which different generations enjoy stronger, more meaningful connections with one another will reduce loneliness and enhance wellbeing across the age spectrum, while building the social foundations for a better, more understanding politics. Many of the biggest challenges our society currently faces - whether the conflicts over Brexit, the hidden epidemic of loneliness or the housing crisis – have a strong intergenerational element. By bringing generations closer together in our schools, care homes and workplaces, in our community centres and social clubs, in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities, and on our apps and mobile phones, we will all be able to face up to these challenges in a much more confident and united manner."
The impact of the Covid 19 pandemic has made the promotion of intergenerational activity even more of a priority.
Intergenerational England will bring together expertise and resources from key organisations working to support the health, education, wellbeing, and housing needs of people of all ages across England. Its vision is to provide the foundation that enables everyone, whatever their circumstances, to benefit from intergenerational experiences. Intergenerational England will champion people and organisations to become more intergenerational.
The new group met for the first time at The Royal Albert Hall on 21st July when a Toolkit was launched to promote intergenerational activity.
Intergenerational England is the first national body to share best practices, research, and innovation in intergenerational practice. It will:
- Help create stronger more connected societies
- Reduce isolation, improve self-esteem, and bring people of all ages together to improve their personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of communities across England.
- Strive to transform the expertise of those working across all sectors into policies that address the challenges and opportunities faced by our society.
Public enthusiasm for more intergenerational activity was demonstrated at a pilot event held at London Waterloo in May this year. Footfall during the event reached 171,928 people and the #TalkingGenerations social campaign reached over 6,000 individuals indirectly and engaged with 78 national partners.
Charlotte Miller, Founder and Director of IMM:
"Over the past five years IMM has been delivering intergenerational programmes, training, campaigning and research across care homes, sheltered accommodation, schools, colleges and hospitals and community centres. Our work has shown how to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the old and the young in communities across the UK through embedding a culture of thinking intergenerationally. If intergenerational connection was a new drug everyone would be clamouring for it."
Kay Allen, Campaign Director for Age Irrelevance:
"Society needs a new life narrative that finds the positive and optimism to create a society that enjoys the benefits of shared learning, exchange of ideas and a renewed sense of belonging – one not confined by perceived age silos – rather a society bound by commonality and shared life paths. One that connects us all to our past and our future. Intergenerational England is an Age Irrelevance Change Maker determined to unleash the power of intergenerational connections."
Claire Fuller, Chief Executive of Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System:
"Intergenerational England has the opportunity of making a significant contribution to the health of the nation. We know that if the NHS carries on working on its own, we can only impact people's health outcomes by 20%; the rest is governed by other socio-economic factors such as someone's mental health, whether they are feeling isolated and other factors relating to their environment. That's where the intergenerational work is so powerful and why I'm so delighted to be supporting this launch."
Lord Syed Kamall, Member of the UK House of Lords and Member of the European Parliament from 2005 to 2019:
"Intergenerational England is a true champion of the benefits of connecting individuals and communities across different generations and backgrounds. Whether connecting through music, or bridging the age gap through other activities, we can improve our wellbeing and the health of our communities with more intergenerational initiatives."
Matthew Todd, Director of Programming and Engagement at The Royal Albert Hall:
"By bringing people of all ages together we can unleash a vast pool of skills found within diverse communities and generations. Communities can thrive and generations can understand and learn from each other's experiences, attitudes and perspectives."
Emily Abbott, Co-Founder of Intergenerational England
"Shared experiences across generations are amongst the most, enriching, and memorable. Yet until now there has been no single point where the value of intergenerational activity is supported and advocated for. Intergenerational England changes that and we hope it will become a steppingstone to a more age integrated society."