Opportunities for people of different ages to come together and connect in a meaningful way are essential to strengthen our communities and increase solidarity between generations.
That’s the joint message from the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales on the European Union Day of Solidarity Between Generations (April 29).
The day, which was established in 2008 and is supported across Europe, promotes the benefits of intergenerational initiatives and activities and encourages politicians and policy-makers to consider what they can do to improve solidarity between the generations.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“Since I took up post last summer, I have visited a number of intergenerational projects throughout Wales and have seen for myself the benefits they bring to everyone involved.
“But these kinds of projects also bring wider benefits and can play a key role in helping to tackle issues such as ageism and age discrimination and making our communities more age-friendly, something that benefits people of all ages.
“In recent years, however, we’ve seen our older and younger generations pitted against one another, most recently in a House of Lords Committee report, and signs that resentment between generations may be beginning to grow. That’s why it’s so important to strengthen solidarity between generations and bring people from different generations together so we can learn from each other, work together, challenge myths and stereotypes and celebrate all of the things we have in common, the things that unite us all.”
Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, said:
“It’s important to remember how beneficial it can be for our children to spend time with older people, and vice versa. I’ve seen lots of schools setting up intergenerational groups over the last few years and they get so much out of it. These groups bring homes for those with dementia alive with children’s play, dance and song, or may simply set up spaces for older people and young people to chat, share skills and play board games. I’m proud that the Older People’s Commissioner and I have played a part in helping encourage these groups to get started through our joint resource for schools and communities.
“As well as being an opportunity to build relationships, for children these sorts of activities boost communication skills, help them to learn new talents, and to grow into confident and valued members of society, attributes that will stand them in good stead for life.
“In a society that has become increasingly fractured during the Brexit process, intergenerational groups can be little havens that rebuild the bridges between us, and where we realise that we have more in common than that which divides us.”
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, said:
“The Well-being of Future Generations Act sets out clear expectations on the public bodies in Wales to involve people in all relevant decisions. Working with communities and generations of all ages should be at the heart of policy making in Wales. The legislation states that we must make decisions that meet the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
“From hosting an intergenerational skills roundtable, including reverse mentoring in our future generations leadership academy and visiting youth organisations and schools, I am always looking at new ways to advocate intergenerational activities.
“I call on all public bodies to look at innovative ways to encourage and support intergenerational work, such as in the example of the Intergenerational programme ‘Ffrind i Mi’ in Gwent, which includes the arts and culture in their activities. Our goal of creating a Wales of cohesive communities is about ensuring we value people of all ages, and create spaces to build relationships. We know that intergenerational activity contributes to living healthier lives and to having safer communities.”
If you’re interested in setting up an intergenerational project or activity, further information and a wide range of resources are available from the #GenerationsTogether hub, which was launched by the Older People’s Commissioner and the Children’s Commissioner in 2017.
The hub includes a series of videos in which younger and older people highlight the benefits of being part of an intergenerational group based on their own experiences, a lesson plan to help schoolchildren think about how they could develop an intergenerational group in their school and an a wide range of information on how to set up an intergenerational group.
The #GenerationsTogether hub can be accessed here: http://www.olderpeoplewales.com/en/intergenerational/resources.aspx