Norma spent many years as a research professor, with a background in multi- disciplinary research and development, focused on service quality in early years and children’s services, services for people with learning disability and older people. She has always had a strong commitment to linking academia to practice, and finding ways to link research to the development of services . She successfully managed a portfolio of roles in academic and service settings make the link between research to policy and practice development in health, education and social care services.
She is skilled at bringing people from different organisations and disciplines together, motivating them to develop and achieve shared objectives. She worked in local, national and international settings. She has written ten books .
Her focus on intergenerational work brings together research and practice and elements of her earlier research.
She founded the charity From Generation 2 Generation of which Intergen is a part.
She has been a member of the editorial board of the International Journal in Ageing and Society.
She has worked with colleagues in Germany and France and lead the European partnership on Health and Humour through the arts for seniors.
She has held a number of Board level positions in health, education and social care organisations.
Older people and Intergen as a means of promoting social inclusion and building inclusive communities
Older people are a valuable resource in our society but this is rarely recognised, nor is the resource they represent drawn upon. It is still the case that they are perceived as a burden and drain upon the resources of society.
Our intergenerational work addresses in one place and at the same time the needs of both older and school age members of communities. The former need to be active to maintain their wellbeing. Volunteering is one of the ways they can achieve this. Engaging with school age young people they can be seen to be contributing to the development of the community. They gain a sense of self-worth and become part of a key institution in their local communities. Friendships are formed, skills are recognised as having value and the children they work with are enriched in terms of learning opportunities to enable them to achieve more. Thus by coming together in schools, younger people are getting additional time and input from the older members of their local community.
In our experimental work we have been able to show the cost and benefit of this school based intergenerational service we have developed and refined. We now make this make freely available to any community where there is an interest in helping demonstrate that older people are capable of making important contributions to life and not constituting a burden. The model we have developed is one way to promote social inclusion of older people. Using the model can contribute to the development of inclusive communities where old people are seen as valued members of the community and young people are not regarded by older members of the community as people to be avoided.
Our model is simple and easily implemented. It is tried and tested both for primary and secondary schools in a range of settings, primarily urban but not exclusively so. In return we would value the collection of data about its impact on old and young members of society. We can provide key questions to which we would like to get answers.