“Intergenerational practice has been massively affected by the pandemic. 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.”
These are some of the reflections of Alison Clyde, CEO of Generations Working Together in Scotland. Read more about how COVID-19 has affected their work.
Over the last few months, like everyone, Scotland has experienced a global pandemic. As an organisation, Generations Working Together (GWT) has 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. Since the crisis began, we have seen interest for intergenerational projects via social networks increase by over 30%.
GWT is offering more support to care homes. By the end of May six out of 10 care homes have had Coronavirus outbreaks in Scotland. Community Engagement Officers are connecting with care homes staff to help build new intergenerational connections and reconnect previous ones. This additional support has helped GWT understand the range of intergenerational projects taking place in care homes, the impact COVID-19 has had and how communities have been working better together. Understandably all intergenerational work halted in March which has resulted in an increase in issues such as loneliness and isolation.
However, faced with the challenges presented, we have seen 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, online intergenerational art classes and music performances outside of windows.
GWT is developing new online intergenerational training opportunities which will be offered to volunteers recruited by the Scottish Government and NGO’s to support the relief effort. The training is another way in which we can support volunteers to increase their understanding and knowledge around what is intergenerational practice and what the benefits are. Topics such as ageism and stereotypes will be addressed and challenged. We hope our training will encourage volunteers to get to know the people they are working with and supporting, and that friendships will continue long after the pandemic eases.
We have learned that generations can still stay connected and that powerful things can happen when communities help each other. Our hope is that this realisation lasts beyond the pandemic.
If you would like to share examples of intergenerational work during the pandemic please contact Kate Samuels, Communications and Policy Officer at Generations Working Together on Kate@generationsworkingtogether.org.
Generations Working Together (GWT) is the nationally recognised centre of excellence supporting the development and integration of intergenerational practice across Scotland. 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, through direct participation in research projects and continued scanning of research happening across the world.
Images credit: Charles Deluvio and Gabriel Benois