Rochdale Boroughwide Housing are the UK’s first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society, covering over 12,000 homes in the local area. Part of the housing stock is an Extra Care Scheme, Hare Hill.

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing discuss the benefits of intergenerational programmes which both support residents and provide numerous outreach opportunities for further education students in the local area.

How did it all begin?

Back in 2019, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing’s (RBH) Independent Living Service (ILS) began to work with Rochdale Sixth Form College to support their enrichment and social development programme. One topic on their programme was to encourage intergenerational working to aid students with gaps in CVs and university applications, particularly in core medical and care-driven pathways.

Two groups of 13 students signed up to visit two ILS schemes with a well-planned programme of activities in place which was aimed at building relationships between young and old.  There were bakes and cakes, knitting and nattering, games and gaming, singing and dancing – the feedback from across the board was fantastic and the programme continued beyond the 8 weeks up until Covid hit.

This relationship with the College had proved so successful that throughout the pandemic, whilst groups couldn’t visit, RBH continued to support students through individual work experience placements.

Intergenerational Project 2022

When the lockdown ended, we jointly with the College, decided to run the intergenerational programme for the second time.  An unprecedented number of students applied for the scheme, 137 students applied for the scheme.  For RBH, this was a pioneering project not to be missed and would benefit not only more students but a high majority of tenants.

The ILS coordinators carried out a workplace induction to 137 students at the College and decided not to plan out the activities.  Instead, there would be an introductory afternoon tea at the 17 involved schemes where the students and tenants could decide on their own programme right for them – the proviso being that part of the programme would involve some level of digital inclusion.   In amongst gardening, old fashioned street games and pampering, all took the time to show each other what technology means to them.  Students played You Tube videos of singers from by-gone years and tenants showed them how their assistive technology worked.

Feeback from the programme tenants yet again, was all positive and a learning experience for them :

‘A different perspective from a different generation’​

‘We did activities that we all enjoyed together’​

‘You can learn something from the next generation’​

‘This project is thinking out of the box mentality giving students a new positive experience’​

‘It was good to help the students learn about the difficulties and concerns we have about our age’

Feedback from the students showed they had picked up social skills and that students intending to go into professions outside of care, were taking older people into consideration:

“I want to be a barrister. As older people are living longer its likely I will be representing them in the future” ​

“It taught me how to adapt my communication skills ”​

“Seeing how my small acts would brighten up their day really showed me the effects of kindness”​

“Students are stepping outside their comfort zone which allows them to develop their soft skills such as empathy and self confidence”            

Nick Vile, RSFC lead for student performance and development

The digital future

We all know that digital inclusion for older people can be a challenge but we also know that we need to begin to meet the needs of our tenants of the future who more and more, already use technology on a daily basis.

In 2023, we are beginning to upgrade the assistive technology in our schemes from the more traditional pendant type to fully digitalised systems.  For those who are less sure or don’t have tablets or smartphones, we intend to use the skills and knowledge of the people with the most experience  of modern tech (the students) as a new way of bringing the digital generation to life in an informal way.

We intend that amongst the intergenerational activity programme in 2023 that there will be a heavy focus on digital technology.  We want them to share their experiences of technology with each other- with older people showing what’s in place for them now.  Some of the features we are about to introduce within the new assistive tech such as facial recognition, location apps and messaging apps are standard feature of most modern smartphones.  We want the younger people to use phones and tablets to demonstrate how future digital tech may work in ILS. 

We want our older people to experience technology in a fun way – to do quizzes and play games in order to build their confidence if they’re not quite sure.  As the generation who will be developing technology in the future, we would like the students to think about how digital technology can enhance the experience of older people in schemes and how it could change going forward.


We are proud that this project won the ‘Diversity in public sector partnership working’ award at the 2022 Rochdale Diversity Awards.  As a housing provider, we need to encourage a workforce of the future – we hope that this project might signpost students to a different career path that they haven’t previously thought of. Being in a scheme regularly will give them a view of other housing and care services.

What impact do we want the project to have going forwards?

  • We want students to have a better understanding of their positive impact on older people​ now and in the future
  • We want students to have a better understanding of their future decisions in their careers – whether it be a medical discharge, a care assessment or simply a knowledge of how older people live and what they really need and want
  • We want students to have a better understanding of their future decisions in their careers – whether it be a medical discharge, a care assessment or simply a knowledge of how older people live and what they really need and want
  • We want to give the students something different on CV or on University application and help them to stand out from the crowd.
  • We want to encourage students to be part of connected care in the future and be the visionaries of further digital technology​.

The key outcome we want is for our tenants to benefit from a different view, a different way. Hopefully in time, this makes their future with us technology-wise, less daunting.

How useful was this article?

Please click on a star to rate it

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing are the UK's first tenant and employee co-owned housing society. They discuss working in partnership with Rochdale Sixth Form to deliver an intergenerational programme to both improve tenants technological skills and help students understand the positive impact they have on the older generation.

Register FREE to access 2 more articles

We hope you’ve enjoyed your first article on GE Insights. To access 2 more articles for free, register now to join the Government Events community.

What you'll receive:
2 FREE articles/videos on GE Insights
Discounts to GE conferences and GovPD training courses
Latest events and training course updates
Fortnightly newsletters
Personalised homepage to save you time
Need unrestricted access to GE Insights Now?