28 November, 2023

The Linking Network have created a unique and meaningful programme connecting students aged 10-14 with older people living in their local rural communities to take part in shared social action.

Through the carefully facilitated, evidence informed programme, younger and older people explored ideas about different generations and ageing and exchanged introductions in preparation for meeting.

They then came together over 2-3 sessions to build relationships (through planned conversation starter activities) and to create a call for change around a variety of student selected local and national issues.

The programme culminated in a listening event where local community leaders were invited to come and hear from the intergenerational groups. This was a key highlight of the programme for all involved with it ‘causing a ripple effect into the local community’ and one young person describing how they ‘became a better person’ from taking part (see evaluation report – Dr Lindsey Cameron, University of Kent).

After completing the programme, 93% of secondary students who took part felt confident in spending time with someone of a different generation and 71% felt confident in making a positive difference in their community. The project ‘changed their minds about the other generation’ and inspired and equipped young people to take part in further volunteering. Others reported that the project increased their collective commitment to social action on their issue (see evaluation report).

As a result of the work schools have ongoing intergenerational community links and a model of authentic but manageable student led social action. One school now embed this programme into their Health and Social Care curriculum whilst others have had students connected with local voluntary organisations to lead new projects as a result of the listening event.

When we met the older people we realised they weren’t actually much different from us’.

‘It felt like a little family…we felt at home with them.’

Guidance and a wealth of resources to enable others to run the programme in their school or locality can be found in our digital toolkit.

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