New funding for intergenerational projects has been announced.

The attributes and advantages which were demonstrated by the ECA’s acclaimed Teddybear project, in bringing together older and younger generations, will be replicated thanks to new government funding.

The £5.5million ‘Generations Together’ fund aims to bring young people and the over 50’s together in their communities by funding 12 intergenerational projects across the country. Young and older people will be able to engage with each other on equal terms, break down barriers and challenge negative stereotypes, closely mirroring the aims and outcomes of Teddybear.

The Association’s Grundtvig funded project involving older people (50+) from all sectors of the community, included those who are disadvantaged or suffering from disadvantages such as mild dementia/Alzheimer's. Many were in residential homes run by local authorities and the project initially focused on developing a supportive arrangement with their local primary school. Here the older residents would be able to exchange their life experiences with the children in an informal setting and the children would respond to their stories through a wide variety of media including creative writing, drama productions and art & craft work. It aimed to increase participation and engagement within communities; developing and enhancing social relationships. It sought to increase intergenerational understanding reducing the fear of youngsters expressed by some older people, as well as promoting greater understanding and appreciation of older people. One very positive outcome of the project was increased respect for older people along with increasing their self esteem.

The European Commission praised Teddybear for its excellence in conceptualisation and delivery and featured it in Gruntvig Success Stories: Europe Creates Opportunities. It is included in 2 ECOTEC handbooks – ‘Sharing Success’ and ‘Learning Together’ and has also been cited in the Community Sector Coalition’s publication ‘Routes to Empowerment – A Community Sector Perspective’. ECA Trustee and Project Coordinator Paul Olver and individual member Bob Short a project tutor with WRVS, were invited to an event at the Foreign Office in London in 2007. Here they met Geoff Hoon, then Europe Minister, and Bill Rammell, who was Lifelong Learning Minister at the time,to describe their successful approaches and celebrate the success of UK organisations in European funding streams.

The funding for ‘Generations Together’ from the Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF), Department of Health (DH), Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) will address the “growing gulf between the old and the young, and the negative attitudes this can encourage between generations”. The programme will run between 2009 – 2011. Local authorities in England are being invited to submit expressions of interest in partnership with local voluntary organisations with at least 50% of the funding being deployed within the third sector.

The ECA endorses that principle of the initiative and agrees that by increasing intergenerational activity, it will help society and individuals by

• Increasing community cohesion - helping people of different ages and backgrounds better understand each other, appreciate their similarities, respect their differences and feel part of the same community
• Providing young people with positive role models who will encourage, support and advise them
• Improving the negative perception of young people, by giving older people the opportunity to see that the vast majority of young people are law-abiding, respectful and talented individuals
• Supporting some of the most vulnerable young and older people in society by giving them the opportunity to experience new activities, improve their confidence and increase the support they may not get at home

The grant recognises that the value of intergenerational learning should not be underestimated and hopes that the funding increases the number of volunteers working on intergenerational activity by 20,000 by the programmes closure.

Rosie Winterton, Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society, speaking at the intergenerational 'Here to Stay' project in Leeds, said:

"The history, memories and experiences of older people are, and should be, greatly valued by younger people and society more widely. We must use these projects to cement the links between the generations and allow people to learn from one another how we can live our lives to the fullest, whether young or old."

To read the Teddybear article in the ECA News Spring 2007 click here

Date Added: April 23rd 2009