All Ages Working Together is Key to Building a Successful Big Society
We know that our society is ageing and that young and old are becoming increasingly polarised - but the Government's vision of a Big Society can only be achieved when all its members are involved in its construction. Are we doing enough to encourage contact across the generations in ways that can help build individual and community resilience?
IntergenerationAll is a new programme launched today by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to address the most urgent areas for intervention.
With the energy and experience young and old have to offer, new and effective solutions to community issues will be found - whether by helping grandparents and grandchildren to connect; bringing students and older people together to share IT skills; empowering women from different cultural groups and generations to build better understanding; engaging generations to create the vision for the village of the future; or prototyping an intergenerational labour model - matching keen older gardeners with socially excluded young adults - to demonstrate a wider role for urban agriculture.
"The value of working across the ages in times of rapid demographic change is extremely important," said Baroness Greengross, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Intergenerational Futures. "Intergenerational approaches form a cornerstone of the Big Society, which must be inclusive - of all ages, as well as cultures - if Government is to come close to the vision it wishes to achieve."
"With services and civil society organisations across the UK feeling increasingly stretched", said Andrew Barnett, Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK. "We're interested in what this programme will teach us about how we can make better use of scant resources by working across the generations - how breaking down silos of age-targeted interventions can help us achieve better - and perhaps more cost-effective solutions for young and old."
"There is so much potential within communities to get involved with tackling big social issues," said Deborah Szebeko, Founder of thinkpublic. "The IntergenerationAll Programme brings this to life by activating projects and supporting them with co-design and prototyping methods that give people the tools to take practical steps towards designing impactful solutions that deliver social value."
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Notes to Editors
We are living in a time of great change; huge demographic shifts worldwide mean for the first time many regions will see numbers of young people surpassed by numbers of older people - in Europe, the share of the 60+ population will have grown from 20% of the total EU population in 1995 to 25% in 2020. These changes signify many great achievements of the past century which should be celebrated; we are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. Nonetheless population ageing represents one of the great challenges of the 21st Century with governments and civil society across Europe struggling with the likely magnitude of the impact on planning at all levels.
In 2010/2011 the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is supporting 18 pilot projects, 11 in the UK and 7 in Portugal, to plan, test and implement their ideas for new intergenerational activities. The objective of the IntergenerationAll programme is to create a user-based assessment of the value of a range of intergenerational schemes, while creating a clearer picture of which types of initiatives lead to sustainable, engaging, cross-generational relationships that will strengthen communities and foster social cohesion.
For more information and the latest news about the projects please go to: www.intergenerationall.org
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is an international charitable foundation with cultural, educational and social interests. Based in Lisbon with branches in London and Paris, the Foundation is in a privileged position to support national and transnational work tackling contemporary issues in Europe. The purpose of the UK Branch in London is to connect and enrich the experiences of individuals, families and communities with a special interest in supporting those who are most disadvantaged. In 2008, the Foundation launched an initiative on ageing and social cohesion, with a number of activities developed with colleagues in Lisbon. The IntergenerationAll programme represents the latest development of this work. For more information about the work of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in the UK please visit www.gulbenkian.org.uk
thinkpublic are a social design agency who work across the public sector, third sector, and communities using design to improve society. thinkpublic's vision is to ensure that the public are involved in shaping their communities and public services. They believe a better society requires a new emphasis towards individual needs and community empowerment. thinkpublic have worked with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to design the IntergenerationAll call for ideas, then train, support, and mentor each winning project to use citizen-centred approaches in the development and delivery of their projects. For more information about the work of thinkpublic please visit www.thinkpublic.com