Age segregation in housing must end says think-tank

Owl says: They don’t mention age segregation by affluence, where rich older people can segregate (and isolate) themselves in luxury apartments, leaving the poorer elderly to try to rent inadequate housing. Now where might they be …!

Britain must create 500 cross-generational housing, care home, school and nursery sites to break down “age apartheid” and heal social divisions, a think tank says.

The first wave of institutions should be set up within five years, it said, to reverse decades of social change that has increasingly kept younger and older generations apart.

The report by United For All Ages, which seeks to bring people together across generations, said that Britain was one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, resulting in loneliness and divided communities. This was driven in part by trends in housing, with many families living farther apart. High house prices meant that market towns and rural communities often had ageing populations while more inner city communities were dominated by young people, it said.

The problem was exacerbated by the diminished role in some communities of local shops, churches, pubs and clubs as retailers moved out of town or online, church attendance fell and pubs closed.

Changes in workplaces were also a factor, it said, as some industries attracted younger or older workforces while flexible or home working meant it was less common for people to mix with colleagues from several generations at work.

The study called on care providers, schools, planners and developers, ministers and local authorities to help to reverse the trend by creating institutions for shared use.

One example is a network of more than 450 multigeneration meeting houses developed in Germany as part of a government response to its ageing population. These host day care services for older people, parent-andtoddler groups, homework clubs, education courses and cafés, supported by volunteers. The report calls on nurseries, primary schools and care homes to develop similar spaces on their sites.

The Times reported in July how a nursery had become the first in Britain to open a site at a care home. Apples and Honey nursery opened its second site in a bungalow in the grounds of Nightingale House, a residential home for elderly Jewish men and women in Clapham, southwest London. Last month Downshall primary school in Redbridge, east London, opened a day centre three mornings a week for older people with dementia and depression to share activities with pupils.

The report urges planners to go further with cross-generation housing shared by older people and students, encouraging homeowners who want to downsize to subdivide their properties to create housing for families, and overlapping training for people to work in care homes and childcare.

Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages, said: “Britain is dogged by divisions — we are divided by class, income, race, geography and age. The mistrust that arises from such divisions is fuelled by the lack of connection between different generations. This can breed myths and stereotypes, misunderstanding, ageism and exclusion. That’s why we believe mixing matters.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

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