How youth workers can support intergenerational working

Ryan McKay, Development Worker at the Citadel Youth Centre, provides an update on their intergenerational (IG) project and shares advice on how you can incorporate IG in your practice.


To use an often quoted figure of speech “jack of all trades, master of none”, youth workers are very good at doing a little bit of everything.  But let’s be clear, this is not a back handed compliment.  The versatile and wide range of skills that youth workers possess, allows them in contemporary practice to successfully form part of inter-agency teams from across both informal and statutory settings. 

When it comes to building successful intergenerational (IG) work partnerships, this ability to fit in with the crowd, enables youth workers to unlock partnerships that may otherwise not take place.

Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Citadel Youth Centre’s – Old’s Cool Intergenerational Project innovatively brought together local high schools and arts based projects who typically don’t engage in IG activity.  Acting as the intermediary between formal schooling, arts partners and local agencies providing services for older people, the Old’s Cool model supports young people (S1-S4) who are at risk of disengaging from school to deliver IG activities to older people and record them in a medium of their choice. 

Without the Citadel Youth Centre’s expertise in delivering intergenerational work, these partnerships would not be possible. Like all successful partnerships over the years, Lennon and McCartney, French and Saunders and Hollie and Phil; IG partnerships are based on mutual trust and a commitment to deliver the best outcomes for both young and older people.    

Creating an environment in which these qualities can prosper, requires skill and communication to ensure all partners view each other as equals.

At the Citadel we are passionate about the IG work partnerships we foster. Many schools in Scotland are now involved in IG work; yet across the board it is still viewed as optional rather than compulsory activity.  Having recently been awarded a certificate from Generations Working Together for our outstanding contribution for building successful partnerships through IG work, we would like to call on youth organisations and schools to further build on the work we have started.

We are confident about the genuine difference youth workers can make by incorporating IG work into their practice.  To support youth workers in developing their own intergenerational work partnerships we have created our own toolkit.

Our IG Practice Toolkit launched on Friday 8th June 2018 and has been designed to highlight and share our Old’s Cool model.  It provides guidance on how to develop your own IG work projects, as well as best practice guidelines for working in schools.

Old’s Cool has consistently shown over the last 3 years that when delivered correctly, IG practice can build hugely successful partnerships, benefiting partners and participants alike. You never know, we may all have to start including IG practice to our “jack of all trades, master of none” title.

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