"The health emergency has shone a light on the importance of more cohesive communities and intergenerational relationships.”
Generations Working Together (GWT) is the nationally recognised centre of excellence supporting the development and integration of intergenerational work across Scotland. GWT has over 3,200 members which includes both organisations and individuals, we operate both locally and nationally providing training opportunities, resources, organising events and facilitating network opportunities. We lead and deliver pilot projects to support and encourage the development and delivery of intergenerational practice in new settings and share knowledge and understanding of intergenerational practice and its impact.
Over the last few months, as we have adjusted to working in a global pandemic, we have found that the demand for online content has risen. For us we have seen that in the first month of the lockdown, our audience on social media has grown by 30%. We have had to adapt to new ways of working, including moving our local network meetings online, creating online training and collating resources to support those seeking to connect generations, such as our intergenerational directory which can be accessed on our website (this link will take you away from our website).
Our core aim in the charity is to bring generations together and our CEO Alison Clyde has said that “Intergenerational practice has been massively affected. Most established projects relied heavily on face-to-face contact and were set in a group context and many projects involved vulnerable older people in care settings. The need to halt the spread of the virus and protect lives brought these to an immediate halt. At the same time, the health emergency has shone a light on the importance of more cohesive communities and intergenerational relationships.”
GWT recognised the need to do more to support communities and care homes in Scotland. Thankfully our application for additional funding to the COVID relief was supported by the Scottish Government. This has given GWT the resource to upscale our activities which included online training, a directory of activities and one on one support for care home staff. The latter has been delivered via telephone and zoom calls which have been well received. They are helping staff consider ways to reconnect residents with younger generations via online technology, paper and telephones. The calls provide GWT with an understanding of the range of challenges members are facing, what impact COVID-19 is having and how our communities have been working together.
It has been heartening to see that even in these difficult times people in Scotland come together and demonstrate their compassion and creativity on an unprecedented scale, we have heard amazing stories of children sending artwork to older people, new pen pal projects, online intergenerational art classes and music performances outside of windows.
We have plans to deliver a series of free online intergenerational training courses across the summer months which will be available to volunteers, individuals and practitioners. We hope many of the new volunteers who faced this pandemic head on will consider undertaking these opportunities to learn more about intergenerational work and how it can contribute to challenging ageism and stereotypes. We hope the training will encourage volunteers to build stronger relationships with people and that the friendships will continue long after the pandemic.
If you have managed to maintain or have created intergenerational connections while in lockdown, we would like to hear from you. Please contact Kate Samuels, Communications and Policy Officer at Generations Working Together on Kate@generationsworkingtogether.org (this link will take you away from our website).
Generations Working Together membership is free to those based in Scotland, please visit our website to join (this link will take you away from our website).