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Building and sustaining intergenerational relationships during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond

During the coronavirus outbreak, our lives have changed in ways we could never have imagined. But despite the challenges, the situation has brought people and communities together, breaking down generational divides and providing opportunities for people of different ages to interact and build relationships.

Since lockdown began, we’ve been delivering a countrywide programme of calls to vulnerable and elderly residents to provide essential support. To date, we’ve made more than 80,000 calls, helping to tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness and ensure our residents have the support they need.

Through Clarion Futures, our charitable foundation, we’ve also worked with partners to facilitate intergenerational connections, with highlights including:

    • The distribution of personalised ‘Happy Packs’ created by young volunteers and containing puzzles, crosswords and snacks to older residents in our LiveSmart independent living schemes in Birmingham.
    • Many of our Community Ambassador Programme participants writing letters of kindness to older Clarion residents during Intergenerational Week to help tackle isolation and loneliness.
    • Bringing residents, staff and voluntary organisations together on Zoom to participate in our first ever virtual social innovation lab, co-designing new solutions for an ageing population.
    • The launch of our Age Friendly Communities Network, bringing practitioners and managers from a range of national housing associations together to explore how we can collaborate to achieve greater impact in our communities.
    • Our Virtual Learning Series featuring expert partners sharing reflections on the impact of Covid-19 on an ageing population.

Working with InCommon, we’ve explored ways of sustaining intergenerational relationships at a time of crisis, creating a report which features stories from Clarion residents and partners and makes a series of recommendations to enable housing associations to embed intergenerational connections into all areas of their work.

Matt Parsonage, Head of Communities for Clarion Futures, said: “Over the last year, we have developed and implemented a strategy for how we'll help residents lead better lives as they grow older in our communities, and we’ve made a positive start, adapting to challenges created by the coronavirus outbreak. We’re delighted to have worked with InCommon on this report and hope that it will stimulate more thinking and exchange of ideas on this theme, within the sector and beyond.”

Charlotte Whittaker, Co-Founder of InCommon, said: “At InCommon, we believe that intergenerational relationships can be a wonderful and enriching part of life for people of all ages, and we aim to create a space for these relationships to grow. As we’ve spoken to others for this report, it has been encouraging to hear stories of sustained and strengthening relationships despite the lockdown. We hope sector leaders will find it useful to read about what’s happening in communities, and some thoughts about how we can all play a part in sustaining intergenerational connections over the coming months.”

The team from InCommon want to hear about projects or initiatives in communities that have been bringing people together despite the need for physical distancing. Submit details using an online form before 6 July and responses will be drawn together and published as an appendix to the report.

For more information, read the report.