Reducing social isolation - Sycamore Grange intergenerational project

Content owner : Last updated : 01/10/2015

What was the need and how was it identified?

Relationships between tenants in one of our retirement living schemes had broken down, causing division between individuals and groups. The staff were spending a lot of time trying to resolve the issues. We needed to help rebuild relationships by increasing social interaction and activity to ensure our tenants were leading active, healthy and happier lives. So we teamed up with council colleagues and staff from the local high school to set up an intergenerational project.

The Aspire Co-operative Learning Trust based at Royds Hall School identified several students aged between 13 and 15 who wanted the opportunity to learn with, and from, older people living within their local community.

The group get together every two weeks and enjoy trying out a whole range of activities, starting with sharing refreshments and talking to each other about life experiences, and then into sharing photos, talking about modern technology, arts & crafts.

What difference has the project made?

It promotes inclusion and builds on the positive resources that different generations have to offer. There is a mutual benefit to all those involved in tackling hostility, reducing stereotyping and social isolation and socialising with different people.

Our older tenants have declared the project a great success and a very enjoyable experience:

"I look forward to seeing new people every two weeks. The benefits are companionships, conversations and nice young faces" Tenant, age 62

"Company because I can't see anymore." When asked about the benefits, this 90 year old lady simply said "Happiness"

For the school and its students, strong positive relationships have developed, creating a better understanding between the older and younger people. The students have become more knowledgeable about the life histories of their new friends, comparing them to their own.

"We can see what we have in common even though there is a big age difference," Student, age 14.

"I felt the project was good and has helped me want to pursue a future job as a carer." Student, age 14..

Royds Hall students with residents
Royds Hall students with residents talk

Sycamore Grange residents with pupils from Royds Hall

What outcomes were achieved?

  • tenants within the scheme have bonded again and there is a happier, more relaxed atmosphere
  • this is having a bearing on overall health and wellbeing
  • staff are no longer spending time dealing with interpersonal issues
  • students are developing skills, shaping the programme of events in partnership with the tenants
  • 33 students have taken part in the project, over three sessions, and the number of older people participating has increased.

What factors were keys to the success of the project?

Having a clear outcome for the participants and recognising that the programme should be tailored to individual's needs, together with the determination and commitment of the professionals involved ensured the projects' success and continuation.

What will happen in future?

  • Future sessions are planned - there is now a waiting list of students wanting to take part
  • Two students involved in all the sessions have stated their desire to seek work in Social Care of the elderly.

What objectives does the project contribute to?

Kirklees Council – promote a healthy lifestyle and help people take part in the community


  • Quality - work with partners to improve health and wellbeing
  • Success - develop confident residents able to participate in their community

Social Housing Equality Framework

  • 3.6 - review priorities in light of changing and conflicting community needs

Customer Service Excellence

3.4.1 We have made arrangements with other providers and partners to offer and supply co– ordinated services, and these arrangements have demonstrable benefits for our customers

3.4.3. We interact within wider communities and we can demonstrate the ways in which we support those communities.