Multi-Generational Centres & Intergenerational Activity - FAQs

by PAS ( Planning Aid Scotland) 

What is a Multi-Generational Centre, and what is Intergenerational Activity?

Multigenerational Centres are meeting places for people of all ages and all backgrounds, offering space for interaction between generations (intergenerational activities), encouraging neighbourliness and helping to reduce exclusion and foster social cohesion. These intergenerational activities and practices (IP) will often be coordinated and delivered by volunteers and can range from childcare to self-determined living in old age, skills sharing, and education/learning.

How is this different from a community centre?
Multigenerational centres and community centres share some common characteristics, such as providing an open meeting space and having a focus on fostering group life and mutual support. However, multigenerational centres are unique in their emphasis on intergenerational activity - the offering of dedicated spaces for differentage groups, alongside spaces and opportunities for specific activity between generations.

What sort of activities occur?
A multigenerational centre will be focused on activities that promote interaction between age groups. The table below presents examples of different activities that may be provided:

  • Geriatric day care / Childcare

  • Community of Interest centres (e.g. Men’s Shed, parenting centre)

  • Informative meeting place open to all members of the community

  • Art / Theatre / Languages

  • Health Care

  • Financial / Jobseeker / Parental / Migration advice

  • Skills/knowledge sharing and socialising (e.g. technology, homework and school tuition)

What are the benefits of intergenerational activities?

Key benefits of multigenerational centres and intergenerational activities are:

  • Create mutually supportive relationships, improve social cohesion, build social capital - as measured by the strength and depth of the network of relationships among people who live and work in a community.

  • Improve health and wellbeing of participants and volunteers.

  • Improve skills and knowledge of participants.

  • Contribute to the age-friendliness of the local community.

  • Organise activities which meet the needs of a specific neighbourhood or small geographical area.

How does this approach work elsewhere?

No dedicated centre exists in the UK yet, however there are a number of projects which emphasise intergenerational activity:

  • Jedburgh Intergenerational Community Campus(Scottish Borders Council) -Community Campus which brings together nursery, primary, secondary schools along with further education facilities. Campus also includes sports and recreation facilities.

  • Cooking Bus(Pilmeny Development Project/Community Food & Health Scotland)– Food preparation and cooking classes with mixed age groups.

  • Generations Working Together(Intergenerational Working) -Advocacy and support/advice for intergenerational activity. Exemplar work in Troon Coastal Rowing Project, sharing skills between youth and adult boat builders.

  • Nightingale House(Nigthingale Hammerson) – Residential care facility with an onsite social enterprise day nursery.

  • Multigeneration House(Deutschland) – Childcare and geriatric services provided alongside ‘public living rooms’ which facilitate interaction between age groups through art/theatre/ethnic group courses, mobile surgeries, homework support.

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