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From a ripple to a wave – how you can bring intergenerational connection to your community

Posted by The Cares Family on 22nd November 2022

Please note: this post is 19 months old and The Cares Family is no longer operational. This post is shared for information only

The Cares Family’s journey started with one conversation. 12 years later, that conversation has inspired over 500,000 intergenerational connections between 26,000 people. This year, we have taken our next step in turning those connections into tens of thousands more.

Building on our experience of nurturing intergenerational community in London, Liverpool and Manchester we have created Ripple Effect – our new national programme to support people in places across the UK to adopt intergenerational activities and to adapt them for their own communities.

York workshop

In September we wrote about how, over the last decade, we’ve been approached to open local Cares Family charities in different towns and cities across the UK. Up until now, we’ve always had to decline, based on a lack of resources and the belief that parachuting into communities and telling them what they need rarely works.

Now, with guidance from various community partners including Multipliers, B:Friend in South Yorkshire, a coalition in York, Cares Family staff alumni, and other friends all across the country, we are ready to support institutions and individuals to lead unique, locally rooted intergenerational communities themselves wherever they are – because while we have deep experience to share, we also know the greatest impact is made by people who really know and understand their communities.

Through this programme, we will share the learning that has gone into building The Cares Family's model and approach – and we will learn from local innovations too. Together, we can turn a ripple of intergenerational connection in local places into a wave all across the UK.

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Why us?

Throughout our journey, we have tested hundreds of ways of working and collaborated with partners to evaluate our impact. We’ve listened to older and younger neighbours and know that our work reduces loneliness and isolation, improves understanding across generations and helps to build people's sense of belonging to a community. We’ve built a model that we’ve scaled across five locations, with each of our charities delivering four core programmes – Social Clubs, Love Your Neighbour, Outreach and Community Fundraising. And our evidence tells us that this model, or parts of it, can be replicated by local people in local places with a little support.

To develop what that support might look like, this summer we partnered with the Communities team at City of York Council, York CVS, York Cares and local charities, faith groups and universities to pilot this new national programme. We ran interactive workshops and supported the group to plan how they would run social clubs in York and how they could draw on existing partnerships to attract older and younger neighbours. The coalition is now delivering its first three intergenerational social clubs and we are continuing to support them from afar.

York workshop 2

Why now?

Evidence shows that 36% of people in the UK feel lonelier since the pandemic – with older and younger people the loneliest age groups. Meanwhile, Britain is shown to be one of the most age segregated countries in the world. We believe that these two issues are related, and that if we can build a wave of intergenerational connection, we can not only reduce loneliness, but build wider unity and belonging too.

With empathy for people experiencing loneliness having increased since the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, and dislocation still shaping many of our communities, there is a once-in-a generation opportunity to make a difference. Now is the time to turn a ripple of connection into a wave.

What’s next?

Sharing our learning is one of our key objectives. That's why we're ready to start working with you, wherever you are in the UK. So if you're in a community organisation, a Council, a university, a business, a faith group, a health agency or indeed you're an individual with strong local relationships – and you're ready to bring intergenerational connection to your community or to deepen your existing approach – we'd love to hear from you.

We want to build a programme that's shaped by your community, so we will tailor learning to your needs. That said, from our experience in York, we know that we will focus some workshops on what it takes to start and support mutually beneficial relationships; to tell stories that inspire people to get involved; to deliver exciting intergenerational social clubs; to create a welcoming, inclusive community; and to make this work sustainable for the long-term.

And if you commit to building connection between older and younger people where you are, we will commit to supporting you for the long-term – and to building a community and a movement of intergenerational change-makers everywhere that can become more than the sum of its parts, and that can drive wider narrative, systemic and culture change.

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