Last week, Jo and Becky travelled to the Generations Working Together International conference in Glasgow. They were joined by Fiona Campbell, colleague, and collaborator from Newcastle University.   

We had been invited to deliver a workshop on our evidence and gap map of intergenerational activity by Alison Clyde, CEO of Generations Working Together.  We met Alison at the “Only Connect!” conference in Falmouth in July 2022 and she was keen that we share the map with a wider audience.  We were delighted to accept! We would really like the map to be useful to and used by practitioners and the more people that know about it, the better. Being relative newcomers to the world of intergenerational practice, and researchers not practitioners, we were also eager to understand whether our approach to organising and categorising the evidence was credible.

Despite all the warnings for snow, Glasgow welcomed us with blue skies and sunshine. Our Glasgow adventure kicked off on Tuesday evening with an opportunity to catch up with colleagues old and new over delicious pizza and cocktails.

Next day, the conference was jam packed with activity – workshops, conversations on the couch, talking tables, delicious food and an information village crammed with interesting organisations and opportunities for networking.   Attendees included practitioners, volunteers, school children, community representatives, academics and organisations such as Age Scotland, Trellis and Yellow Door (thank you for the hearts!).

The opening speech, delivered by Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities and Older People in the Scottish Government, set the tone for the rest of the day. Christina chose to use her opening speech as an opportunity to announce the launch of a £3.8 million fund to support community groups to bring people and communities together to tackle loneliness and social isolation.  Demonstrating the value that the Scottish Government places in building communities through intergenerational activities and acknowledging the fantastic work that Generations Working Together are doing to enable Scotland to become an intergenerational nation. The auditorium was positively abuzz with excitement – we don’t think we’ve ever been to a conference where a government minister has shown support by pledging funding!

Becky and Fiona were delighted to welcome more than 25 people to our workshop (but just a little apprehensive when we realised that that included Matt Kaplan from Pennsylvania State University on whose work we had based our framework!).   We were bowled over by the response, we couldn’t have encountered a more receptive, effusive reaction to our work.  Thank you to all the workshop attendees for your generous comments and enthusiasm. It was so encouraging to hear that our map had filled a gap. If you missed the workshop and would like to learn more about the map, we’re hoping to share some short videos during Global Intergenerational Week (24th to 30th April) – watch this space.  Meanwhile check out the map and accompanying report and please share your thoughts

We plan to update the map over the next year or so, if you think we’ve missed a study, please don’t hesitate to let us know and we can include it next time. If you think your organisation might be interested in providing a link to the map from their website, please do get in touch.

Throughout the day, Excellence Awards for intergenerational practice were presented for categories including ‘Tackling Age Discrimination and Stereotypes’, ‘Valuing Generational Diversity’, and ‘Building on Wider Knowledge’. We loved the insight into the amazing work going on across Scotland bringing younger and older people together for mutual benefit.  Learning about the diversity of approaches and impacts on individuals was a great reminder of why we’ve been so interested to study intergenerational practice. From gardening to boat building to youth work, we learned about the importance of partnerships, relationships, and connections. Congratulations to all the award winners!

In one of the most thought-provoking sessions, Anneke Fitzgerald from Australia, Matt Kaplan from the US and Mariano Sánchez Martínez from Spain, led a discussion about the relevance of quality standards in the field of intergenerational practice.  We were asked to consider why quality standards are important, what elements they might incorporate and how existing quality frameworks might be used, before being asked a series of five questions. The responses will be used to inform a new project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.  The project, which is a collaboration between Generations Working Together, Linking Generations Northern Ireland and Apples and Honey Nightingale seeks to develop a model for embedding intergenerational approaches into the community and to introduce and promote new quality standards that will aim to provide confidence and credibility and help ensure sustainability.

Over dinner on Wednesday evening, we reflected that it had been a whirlwind of a day, over far too quickly.  We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to share our work, to learn from the leaders in the field of intergenerational practice and to have made links with so many fascinating people and projects.   Thank you to Generations Working Together for such a positive experience.

We left Glasgow with a very long list of ideas for our next steps.  We’re already working on some ideas for Global Intergenerational Week (24th – 30th April) and thinking about possibilities for future collaboration.

Campbell, F., Whear, R., Rogers, M., Sutton, A., Robinson-Carter, E., Barlow, J., Sharpe, R., Cohen, S., Wolstenholme, L., & Thompson-Coon, J. (2023). Non-familial intergenerational interventions and their impact on social and mental wellbeing of both younger and older people—A mapping review and evidence and gap map. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 19, e1306.