Britain is one of the most age segregated countries in the world. How can we bring the generations closer together? Stephen Burke from United For All Ages outlines some ideas.
It’s well known that we are all getting older. Britain is an ageing society. That has many implications, not least that many of us will work longer. But older people also face barriers from the age segregation and ageism that scar Britain.
Tackling these issues and the divisions that result is the aim of a new report from United for All Ages. The ‘Together in the 2020s’ report’s analysis of recent research shows Britain is one of the most age segregated countries in the world, particularly for the oldest and youngest generations. In Britain people have relatively little contact with other generations outside their own families.
Bringing younger and older people together can help address these and other big social problems facing all generations in Britain – from poor health and care, anxiety and loneliness to learning, housing and lifelong opportunities.
Britain and its ageing society could be transformed by acting on the report’s recommendations that were contributed by 25 national and local organisations.
The contributors are all concerned about improving relations between the generations and range from the Children’s Commissioner for England, Local Government Association and Youth Sport Trust to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Centre for Ageing Better, Anchor Hanover and Grandparents Plus. They have shared ideas and projects for making Britain ‘a country for all ages’ by 2030.
The key recommendations that would help improve employment opportunities include:
In every community: developing 1,000 centres for all ages and enabling more care homes to become community hubs; extending schools’ opening hours to provide community spaces for intergenerational activities; scaling up homesharing schemes for older and younger people as part of the growth in intergenerational living; training students together on intergenerational projects before they enter the workforce.
In social and economic policies: setting up a new government department for connection to support and join up intergenerational action nationally and locally; introducing a positive ageing strategy and assessing all policies’ intergenerational impact; redesigning the economy to make the most of the ageing society; legislating for the long-term and planning for future generations; introducing an intergenerational curriculum; creating a ‘bond for all ages’, with tax breaks to help working families pay for care and learning.
In culture, media and sport: extending the Welsh campaign to end #EverydayAgeism across the UK; making online mentoring universal for young people seeking advice on life-shaping decisions; using the power of football and sport to bring generations together and change local communities; creating media awards for good (and bad) coverage of ageism; designating a Bank Holiday as a national day of unity raising awareness and bringing the country together.
These recommendations are ambitious but very do-able. Together we can make the 2020s the decade that creates a Britain for all ages where everyone can prosper.
*Stephen Burke is director of United for All Ages. ‘Together in the 2020s: twenty ideas for creating a Britain for all ages by 2030’ can be downloaded at www.unitedforallages.com @united4allages