Linking Generations Northern Ireland has been supporting communities to bring different generations together since 2009. The only Northern Irish organisation solely focusing on the development and promotion of intergenerational approaches in Northern Ireland, they have picked up many lessons along the way. Here manager Vicki Titterington shares some of those lessons.
Linking Generations Northern Ireland (LGNI) use the Beth Johnson Foundation definition of intergenerational practice, aiming to bring people together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities which promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contributes to building more cohesive communities
We have led the way in connecting generations in communities across Northern Ireland since 2009 and are the only Northern Irish organisation solely focusing on the development and promotion of intergenerational approaches to address societal issues in Northern Ireland. Our vision is that Northern Ireland will be a place where all generations are respected, understood, connected and engaged together in their communities. To achieve this LGNI offer opportunities to bring generations together in lots of different places for lots of different reasons.
LGNI has developed a Northern Ireland wide infrastructure to enable them to provide their services on a regional basis via the coordination of local intergenerational networks. Our networks bring together local people, communities, organisations and policy makers interested in bringing generations together. LGNI coordinate network meetings enabling members to find out about intergenerational opportunities, share ideas/learning, access training, support and resources.
As the only organisation in NI focusing solely on the development and promotion of intergenerational approaches to social issues we see our service as vital and unique. We see intergenerational practice as an approach as opposed to an activity and we operate as a catalyst to support others to add value to their work using intergenerational work. This brings with it many challenges including:
LGNI runs a small grants programme every year called All Ages April. All Ages April 2019 supported 51 intergenerational activities/connections involving 2300+ participants and 107 groups (community groups, sports clubs, care homes, schools and nurseries). We see the benefits across the board for those involved and it’s great to see how one small idea and a connection with another group/organisation/setting can provide positive outcomes for the participants, learning for the organisations/leaders and in most cases sustained links between people and organisations who go on to work intergenerationally as a result.
Start by asking, 'why am I doing this?' Intergenerational practice is an approach that should have clearly defined outcomes and be grounded in community need and should be developed in partnership with the people in the communities that it is for. We suggest the following:
Visit our website and sign up to our networks www.linkinggenerationsni.com, like us and follow us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram or check out our Youtube channel.
We are always looking for funding to support our staff to continue to support communities and organisations to develop their own intergenerational work.
Linking Generations Northern Ireland is a part of the Beth Johnson Foundation, a national charity dedicated to making the UK age-friendly. Working with a network of volunteers, researchers, intergenerational practitioners, and age-specialist partner organisations, we speak up for the rights of older people, and push for change, at a strategic and practical level, to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy a great later life.