Over the last few decades, Britain has become one of the most age-segregated countries in the world. The average Briton has 40% fewer interactions with people of other ages than would be expected if there was no social segregation. Young people have the least interactions with other age groups, and are the most reliant on family relationships to enable them to mix with people of other ages.
We have become segregated by age for various socio-economic reasons such as a lack of affordable housing, which has forced older people and younger people to live in different areas. Ageism plays a part too with older people and younger people often pitted against each other during times of political and social crisis.
Age segregation is harmful for all of us and for our society. Younger people are missing out on exposure to a diverse group of role models and the wisdom and experience older people have to offer. Older people have been isolated and institutionalised. Loneliness affects all ages groups and is now one of the biggest threats to our mental and physical health. Communities would thrive if they were built on trust, understanding and belonging engendered by different generations sharing spaces, learning from each other and forming closer connections.
We aim to help prevent age segregation from worsening in Brent by providing older people and younger people in the borough opportunities to meet and spend time together. You can read about our current projects below. To learn more about age segregation, please download the following report: A Country For All Ages written by ‘think-do tank’ United For All Ages.
Generations Together is a community led design project that brings children and older adults together to design and create three unique communal spaces that cater for both the very young and very old. Our intergenerational peer designers will be able to look at community spaces in ways that professional design teams can never do; through their own lived experience. These new shared spaces will help bring generations together to learn from each other, build stronger community cohesion and address the age segregation in Brent.
Elders Voice’s design programmes encourage peer-designers to solve local social issues in innovative ways, guiding them through the initial project proposal, research phase and idea generation, to the final development and evaluation. Intergenerational projects energise older adults, reduce isolation and challenge the stigma of ageing. For children these projects fill social gaps that may be missing especially if they have no grandparents. They also increase self-esteem; vital as children transition to secondary school.
The design team will be based at Elders Voice’s Wellbeing Centre in Kensal Green. Each transformed space will be evaluated by the local community, and all the participants will be assessed on how the project has increased their understanding of the other age group, improved their confidence and helped them develop new skills. Finally, we will produce a tool kit that will enable schools to develop their own intergenerational design projects.
Generations Together will be delivered in partnership with LEAP London and Princess Frederica School. If you are an older adult living in Brent and would like to join the Generations Together design team or learn more about the project, please contact the CEO on: 020 8206 7507 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.