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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Cooper

Building Thriving Communities: A Journey Through Intergenerational Connections at Sovereign Network Group

My role at Sovereign Network Group (SNG) is Head of Partnerships and Funding. It’s a varied role which includes bringing in external funding into our communities where we have housing, developing partnerships with charities, local authorities, businesses and others who share our aims and supporting SNG to measure its impact.

I’ve been at Sovereign Network Group (SNG) for 4 years. I joined in the pandemic to a world of enforced remote working and without the chance to meet many of my new colleagues in person. This brought home to me the importance of the intergenerational connections you make in the workplace.

SNG is a big organisation - 85,000 homes across London and the South of England and we exist to provide homes for the most vulnerable. Supporting intergenerational activity and recognising the long term impact we make in communities is written into our purpose which is to:

Provide good, affordable homes: the foundation for a better life, and our vision is thriving communities, over generations.

Housing is around for the long time and building communities over generations isn’t a short term aspiration. We want to build communities where people want to live and stay and thrive. We provide a range of support through our Community Investment programme recognising many of our customers need some support. This includes financial inclusion support, help getting online, access to grants and if out of work or looking for a better job 1-1 advice and support around that.

We provide a range of housing as well as social rented homes including shared ownership and private sale, housing for keyworkers, specialist housing for particular needs such as a Foyer for young people on the Isle of Wight.

To me intergenerational connection means learning and understanding the value peoples experiences, skills and perspectives can offer. Don’t make assumptions about people based on their age. I hugely value my neighbours of a different generation and their knowledge of the local community and incredible gardening skills. I think they like the fact that I can help out with some jobs they need to do or come along and have a cake and a chat at our house. It helps that my son and daughter love baking.

At SNG we are trying to do think more in an intergerational way. One way we do this is after recognising many of our engaged residents were older we set up a youth panel to encourage diversity of thought. Its been great bring those generations of engaged residents together share thoughts and co-create solutions.

We believe that intergenerational connection improves wellbeing and we try through our work to enable community connections. One of the ways we are doing this is through an Intergenerational Social Action programme led by Clarion Housing group and funded by The National Lottery Community Funds iWill programme. This enables us to provide small grants to community organisations that will deliver community projects that provide intergenerational connections.

As we make a significant social impact we think its really important to measure the social impact of all we do. Our social impact is going to grow through our aspiration to create a Community Foundation this year that will invest £100m into communities over the next decade. We measure our impact through tracking the wellbeing value of different activities such as volunteering and making connections as well as telling the stories of people we’ve supported and community projects we are involved in.

We are still learning about how we are best placed to make intergenerational connections and sometimes the simple things we can do are the most impactful. Providing a community space or an event for people to meet and interact cam be huge. Also providing a grant for activities to give people the resources to do something in their community that has an interrogational focus. Lastly we look at our housing and neighbourhoods as places where people can connect and  this helps us to build communities that thrive over generations.


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