Inter-generational sites needed to tackle social ills

A think tank has called for 500 ‘shared sites’ to be opened in care homes and community hubs across the country to help bring the old and young together.

A report published today by United for All Ages claims such sites could help tackle some of the big social ills facing Brexit Britain, including poor health and loneliness.

It highlights the growth of shared sites, including from the first ‘care-home nursery’ at Apples and Honey Nightingale in southwest London and the first eldercare day centre at a primary school in Essex.

The report calls for 500 shared sites to be developed by 2022 across the UK, where activities for older and young people take place alongside each other and together.

It recommends opening up sheltered housing schemes to students in return for volunteering and support, expanding the Homeshare scheme where older people let spare rooms to young people in return for practical support and companionship; and creating new purpose-built inter-generational housing developments

It calls for the development of more community hubs and pubs, where different generations can mix and share key facilities, supported by councils transferring assets to local communities.

Experience in the US, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere shows the benefits for all generations of shared sites where old and young can mix.

These include improved learning and social development for young children, better care and quality of life for older people, more opportunities for families and care staff, as well as economic benefits for providers of childcare, housing and care.

‘Brexit Britain is dogged by divisions – we are divided by class, income, race, geography and age,’ said United for all Ages director, Stephen Burke.

‘The mistrust that arises from such divisions is fuelled by the lack of connection between different generations. This can breed myths and stereotypes, misunderstanding, ageism and exclusion. That’s why we believe mixing matters.’

‘While the government is absorbed with delivering Brexit, Britain is crying out for positive change,’ he added.

‘Economically, more needs to be done to address inter-generational fairness through affordable housing, wealth and taxation. Socially, mixing through shared sites could provide thousands of opportunities across the country to bring people together for the benefit of all generations.’

Chuka Umunna, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on social integration, which is holding an inquiry into inter-generational connection, said in the report: ‘There is growing political will to build bridges across a number of social divides, including age, which were brought into sharp focus by recent political events such as the EU referendum and the 2017 general election.

‘I believe our APPG’s inquiry – through championing schemes and the exploration of new policy approaches – has the power to convert this growing political will into practical action.’


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