Connecting our cities - #Gen2Gen
Posted by The Cares Family on 21st January 2020
By Alex Smith
A new report, "#Gen2Gen Cities", by The Cares Family's US friends Encore.org, offers some fabulous ideas, tips and strategies for cities looking to find ways to bring the generations together. The report has particular relevance to The Cares Family's work because it recommends, among other ideas:
- Building community with intergenerational events and activities
- Increasing volunteerism
- Activating public spaces with intergenerational programming
- Improving outcomes for younger and older people
- Linking new strategies to existing city work
- Cultivating intergenerational networks
- Developing innovative funding strategies
But Encore's new report echoes with us for other reasons too – namely because its focus, like The Cares Family's work, is on cities. We're often asked asked why our work to date has focused on 'rapidly changing cities'.
The reason is that those cities are amazing – full of people from all over the world, with culture, heritage and economic opportunities at their heart.
But amid the pace of the metropolis they can also be anonymous, isolating and lonely, particularly for older people with deep roots in their neighbourhoods, but few connections, and for arriving younger people with hundreds of connections in the social media age but fewer roots in those neighbourhoods. Those two age groups are shown to be the loneliest in society; in our big cities, they often life side by side but can barely interact.
Our animated film tells the story:
So, in 2016 and 2017, when we worked with local partners to consider where The Cares Family would be most appropriate, we looked at some of the biggest, fastest-changing cities in the UK. We appraised various factors: the speed of economic change and how that was leaving people feeling left out and left behind, the numbers of older people living in the city, the numbers of new build developments, the numbers of students making homes in their university towns and potentially leaving older people feeling locked out , and indices of loneliness and broader deprivation. The result of that partnership building and research was to build Manchester Cares in 2017, Liverpool Cares in 2018, and East London Cares in 2019.
None of that is to say that rural areas don't also experience loneliness and generational division. They do – and that's why we're exploring new projects to help people to develop their own models bringing the generations together in their own communities in their own ways, with that key community-led and place-based approach absolutely at the heart.
For any community looking for a way to get started, Encore's #Gen2Gen Cities is a good place to begin. The US context may be different, but the fundamental values – of finding connection, building togetherness, and doing so in a way that's beneficial to older and younger people alike – are shared. The video below shows a little of what can be done: