Marking the importance of Global Intergenerational Week, Ruth Maguire MSP participated in debate held in the Scottish Parliament today.

Global Intergenerational Week began as a campaign, originally started at a local level, before growing to a national level event and is now going global for its third year.

Global Intergenerational Week 2022, runs from 25 April to 1 May, aims to inspire individuals, groups, organisations and governments to support connection between people of all ages. It encourages the younger and older generations to come together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities to promote greater understanding and respect between generations and help contribute to building more cohesive communities.

The debate in the Scottish Parliament celebrates the work of connecting our communities and how it can help tackle problems of ageism and loneliness – particularly following the isolation people have experienced over the last two years.

Ruth Maguire MSP thanked colleague SNP MSP Jackie Dunbar for bringing this important topic to chamber and highlighting the excellent work of the charity Generations Working Together.

Speaking in the Members’ debate on Intergenerational Week 2022, Ruth Maguire MSP said: 

“I think we can all agree the last two years have been challenging.

It is important we recognise the isolation and loneliness presented by the pandemic for all generations. And also, the negative impact on some opportunities for intergenerational working. 

I also enjoy hearing examples of the intergenerational associations which have been created across Scotland.

And today. I am delighted to have the opportunity to highlight the inspiring work which has taken place across my constituency of Cunninghame South, in North Ayrshire.

Prior to the outbreak of Coronavirus, there were a number of special relationships developed between primary schools and older generation groups. St Marks Primary and Early Years visited Vennel Community Gardens. The Stanecastle Primary School allied with the Burns Day Care Centre. Special recognition has to go to St Winnings Primary school in Kilwinning for their stellar efforts at community intergenerational developments. 

St Winnings Primary School worked hard to develop a number of intergeneration opportunities with groups such as Chalybeate Sheltered Housing, Buckreddan Care Home and St Winning’s over 60’s Club. 

Working with Lingo Flamingo the young people helped older residents to learn Spanish words which were then later tested playing Spanish bingo. 

At Christmas the young people performed a selection of songs and carols for the St Winnings over 60’s club and encouraged the members to get involved. 

What’s more, as a result of the incredible benefits that both groups felt through intergenerational working, Woodland View Dementia Unit based at Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine visited St Winnings Primary School for a range of activities including a day visit, roast beef lunch with other members of the community, and a Christmas assembly. 

The day visit involved pupils in primaries 5-7 being assigned a Woodland View Patient where they spent the day, their time, giving a tour of the school and having a meal with them. The older folk enjoyed sharing stories and gaining an insight into present school life, which was fun for the young people and also helped them develop essential life skills.

St Winnings rich and diverse intergenerational projects underline the mutual benefits to both the younger and older generations and the extent to which it enhances their health and wellbeing. 

Sadly, as we all know, the pandemic resulted in face to face interactions being paused. 

In the midst of adversity, the people of North Ayrshire found other ways to contact the older sometimes isolated residents of care homes, to make them smile and let them know someone was thinking of them. 

We saw Kilwinning art initiative, Artastic CIC’s Pots Of Talent project provide schoolchildren pots and paint so they could design a colourful reminder for those alone in lockdown, that they weren’t forgotten.

The Co-op Community Member Pioneer for Irvine and Dreghorn, developed the Sunshine Through Your Letterbox campaign, to help those in local care and nursing homes during self-isolation. The campaign saw hundreds of local children sending care homes some “sunshine in the post” through daily drawings, poems and uplifting messages.

The Activities Coordinator at Three Towns Care Home in Stevenston noted:

The residents really enjoy looking at the pictures. It definitely cheers them up and lifts their spirits.”

She planned to print the drawings out to put up around the care home, “because the residents really like looking at them.”

Those simple remarks speak volumes about the mutual value and happiness of intergenerational friendship and collaboration 

As our life returns to more of a normality, I am happy to echo Jackie Dunbar’s call to help inspire and reconnect people of all ages, with so much to gain from each other, here in Scotland and around the world, to start – or restart intergenerational connections.”

The motion debate can be found on the Scottish Parliament website here.