Good practices

The intergenerational contact has been one of the main goals for the European policy during the last years, which aimed to increase the cultural and economical wealth in Europe. This increased the motivation of voluntary organizations from different European countries to collaborate with each other in order to reach a common object, like the enhancement of intergenerational relationships. The project SMILE involved organizations from Germany, Poland and Turkey. Its main objective was to create a senior mentoring program that promotes the intergenerational contact between different European countries and plans to involve both retired people and still working seniors interested in participating in a volunteering activity at a European scale.

The project lasted over two years and was divided in four meetings organized in the three countries involved. During these meetings the participants discussed the procedures needed to promote intergenerational relationships, taking in consideration the different levels of awareness in regards to the topic in the respective countries. These aspects appear in the guideline, which is a summary of the subjects discussed by the European partners during the Study Visits.

The guideline includes cultural, generational and organizational factors, fundraising opportunities, and training for the mentors, as well as recommendations regarding PR work. The goal of this guideline is to create a tool kit for managers of mentoring and partnership projects focusing on improving the skills of young people. The kit contains materials and information you need to start or maintain a quality intergenerational project, with a wide collection of good practices of voluntary mentoring and partnership programs across Europe.

the Guideline in PDF version is available at:


Lovely trip through Passau

When somebody comes to Warsaw I always feel “call of duty” to show she or he my hometown. I try to show city from my perspective, with my special places and stories connected with them. During visit in Passau I’ve found person with the same need – a need of sharing experience and history of the city from her own view.

Gudrun decided to show me Passau from many different perspectives. We were on top of the one hill where is placed residence of bishop and local brewery. Such a wonderful landscape with three rivers, beautiful architecture and hills full of green. Next we visited another brewery which is owned by… bishop! It is very interesting because, as Gudrun said, he own half of this town. All the time she listened me very carefully and asked me what I want to do. That was really nice. After that we went to another hill to see former orthodox monastery which now is recreated as a catholic church. Gudrun told me whole story about that process and… we’ve found polish sign! Wooden sculpture of Christ created in 100 anniversary of birth of polish activist in Bavaria. Every time when she was telling me something I discovered not only a story of particular place but herself as well. She is fantastic guide and lovely person! Mateusz, 24


Passau – place you must visit

I liked being in Passau in every aspect of the project and the city. The whole program was prepared in the way that we had fun while working. We could get know better the members of the projects and the city. I like very much the idea of going for sight-seeing only with one person from Passau. I apreciated very much Perdita’s presentation about her organisation promoting volontary. I was amazed by the ideas and programs she realized allready and the one going on. I got a lot of information which can be usefull for me in my work. I like very much visit in senior house and theather. This visit opened my mind for needs of senior people and the power of senior volunteering.

That was absolutely brilliant idea to get us “private” guide for Passau. First, that I could see the town from different angle, second that I could get know Federica much better. She showed me places she likes in Passau, where she goes with her friends. There were nice caffe’s and pizzeria place in not so obvious locations for a foreigner and also she got me to big bookstore. The thing is I personally love bookstores and I usually go there by myself  in other countries. This time it was her idea which means that is something we have in common. We also visited the part of town I would never think of going (time issue). I mean the other side of the river Inn and I found it very calm and romantic place. Federica is from Italy and she studies at Passau University. She told me that her interest for Germany started when she was 9 and she heard German singing person on the radio. She thought that this language sounded very interesting and she decided to learn it. Thank’s to that I could also practice my “poor” German on our short trip. And we have plans – I hope Federica comes this year to Warsaw and I can give her guided tour around the city I love. Kasia, 49

Our meeting in Passau

I consider our visit in Passau was very successful. At the beginning I have to admit that Passau is a beautiful and climate city, with many places are worth to see. During our trip atmosphere was very good, within the Polish group and between the other project participants. I really liked the place, where we have eaten our dinners. When I visit other countries, it’s always important for me to find traditional and climatic restaurants.

The second day of our meeting, which started in your foundation, was extremely inspiring. I am impressed by the projects, which leads your foundation, especially considering the very limited budget it has. My attention rivets the quantity of projects, but also their creativity. They all about very important issues and i think they are very much useful. Extremely inspiring is in my opinion project “boys”, whose realization in my country would be very needed, and also very difficult, because to the much stronger than in Germany barriers and habits.

From our meeting in the foundation I will also remember the introductory game that perfectly broke the barriers between the participants, created excellent atmosphere and allowed a rapid integration of the new workshop participants.

A visit to the nursing home was quite a shocking experience for me, because I was not completely prepared to visit the place like this. However, it drew our attention to a very important aspect of thinking about seniors, revealing problems that will grow over time. In the world it will be more and more older people, often lonely, requiring professional care.

Sightseeing in pairs was in my opinion a fantastic idea, because each of could feel very special. City walking was an opportunity not only to show us the city with by a  little sentimental side, but also from the perspective of seniors.  We saw what is important for people of different generations in urban areas, what we need to remember by planning a public space, to make it friendly for all residents.  I was lucky because I could to see Passau from many perspectives, and hills, because I was travelling by car.

The last day of our meeting, the trip to Eggenfelden, was also extremely interesting. For the first time in my life I had the opportunity to visit the theatre from the backstage. The most important part of the day was, of course, meeting with the charges of Margot. We were and we are very impressed about her work, providing the opportunity for self-realization for those who at first glance are not supposed to be a part of the theatre. The confrontation with people with disabilities was not the easiest for me because it not happens every day. Instead, it was a very valuable experience. In our society, many groups are unfairly excluded, and our job is to help them find their passion and turn them into local communities. Very interesting and breaking barriers were also our little theatre workshops.

In conclusion, I rate our visit to Germany very positively. I believe that we fulfilled the objectives of the project. Our meeting in Passau opened my eyes to a whole new problems and motivated to take action a be a part of inter-generations projects. My perception of the seniors has changed significantly. They don’t have to be, as is often seen in my country, prisoned at their home. Thanks to the project I started communicate with the seniors totally different. Filip, 25

Visiting Bursa (Turkey)

Already on our way from the airport to the ferry station you can notice how different the demographics of the turkish population is from ours. Both on the left and right side of the road very 2km one can see playgrounds. Sure, one can see older people over 60 however the majority of people on the streets are young, below 30. What I also could not oversee were the refugees from Syria who are begging on the streets. Mostly children who are asking drivers for money at street crossings. The picture did also not change when we arrived In Bursa.

Many people on the streets, majority young. Older people one can usually see at coffee houses and moscques. Theses are also the placed where the younger and older generation is able to meet and interact. During our stay in Bursa all three groups where thinking about activities that younger and older persons could do together. I think that especially when young people come into a new city they could benefit from the knowledge and experience older people have about their city. The city walk we did together with older and younger members Of the turkish group really showed thIs. The younger ones did not know that much about the history Of certain places we vistited but older ones knew interesting places that other members would not know about. This made the city walk very interesting and I enjoyed It a lot. All In all being together with all paticipants Of the program again was great and I am looking forward to our next meeting In Passau. Ula, 34

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SMILE Team checked Warsaw

During the study visit in Warsaw in May, we decided to  check how the city and public space is designed to integrate the generations. We started from common views: using photos and descriptions of nine places in Warsaw, the task was to decide, which place they would recommended their friends – as they are seniors or juniors. The opinions about places were very similar – such  clubs like Fabryka Trzciny or CDQ are places only for young people because of the noise and darkness. The Temple of Divine Providence was selected as „only” for seniors. Although the fact that such a place like Syrena Squat was initially selected as typical place for young people, during discussion and presentation of seniors‘ activities as teaching kids there, German participants decided to visit the place.

Next day participants were divided into groups (international and intergenerational). They were provided with info kits with necessary information, maps, tasks to solve, places to visit by taking a walk or public transport. They were also asked to share roles in group as e.g. documentation keeper, cameraman, or time keeper. They were challenged with tasks of collecting, processing and analysing information about Warsaw. The task was to assess whether Warsaw deserves a name of the citizens-friendly city, open to their needs, initiatives and ideas, especially in the context of intergenerational integration. They were also encouraged to talk with passers-by  and people they met on streets., so they took up a challenge and one of the group had even a chance to meet the President of Warsaw.

One group was taking a route “the greens of the urban space”, the second group took an “urban public space” route, mostly through the parks and open areas checking also how the infrastructure looked like and how can be used to integrate people as house gardens, city allotments, benches, playgrounds, open space gyms. They were examining the area of the parks in terms of its adaptation to citizens with children, seniors, and juniors. They were asked to pay special attention to recreational and relax places, playgrounds signs  and to check e.g. how much is the entrance ticket for  grandparents with a two years old grandson.

They walked by Nowy Świat and Krakowskie Przedmieście – the two main parts of the “Royal Route of Warsaw” and conducted a survey among the passers-by about what  Warsaw lack in terms of public space and what could be changed. The groups were about to analyse how gentrification influence the character of the street and determine  e.g. the type of clients of the bars and restaurants. They also visited the Copernicus Scientific Centre and walked along the boulevards of the Vistula River. They were asked about ideas of the possible ways of developing the river’s bank area, in order to make it more attractive for citizens in different ages.

The participants made a list of strong and weak points of Warsaw as a citizen-friendly city in the context of intergenerational integration. Generally Warsaw was described as a  green city with many parks,  as other positive points were mentioned:

  • public transport,
  • bike rentals,
  • groceries on the streets,
  • low pollution,
  • clean streets,
  • visibility of respect for history and cultural heritage,
  • open air concerts for free,
  • bary mleczne – places (form of cafeteria) where everyone can afford a meal.

As weak points, participants listed:

  • rough pavements,
  • to less benches in parks,
  • no information about emergency numbers in public places,
  • a lot of dogs‘ faeces on lawns,
  • the restaurants in parks are very expensive,
  • the lacks of infrastructure taking into account needs of visually impaired and blind people,
  • to less cycle lanes,
  • people tend to park their cars on pavements,
  • some public places lack of elevators or escalators;
  • surroundings of the river bank lack of playgrounds and places for citizens to relax,
  • some buses are not adjusted to seniors or disabled people.

You can find more about the intergenerational city on our website 

The ice is broken

When I first heard about the project, I was sceptical. How should juniors and seniors be enabled to have a good time together? How might they find a common basis for doing activities together, talking to each other on equal terms – in spite of all the things that distinguish them: firstly their age, of course, but beyond that their life stories, their interests, social relations, experiences and so on.

But our first project meeting in Warsaw convinced me of the contrary. Never before have I seen so much open-mindedness, respect and support between the generations. Never before have I seen a retired accountant from Germany dancing with a student from Poland, as Hans Peter did with Ula. And never have I experienced generation 60+ making friends with young students in their twenties. I was baffled.

But that didn’t happen out of the blue. Our Polish hosts, staff members and volunteers of the Robert Schuman Foundation in Warsaw, set up the meeting professionally. They didn’t only help us preparing the Schuman Parade which was our primary goal for the meeting. They also supported us making up relationships with our senior/junior partner – and intensifying them during the week. By granting us enough freedom for personal talks and activities, we really had the opportunity to get to know a person on a subtle level. Listening to each other is crucial for that. But all participants were willing to learn from each other: “The encounters I experienced were unique”, tells Maria, 24. “I learned that you can have good talks beyond all borders and generations.”

Especially interesting to learn was the different way how people in the three countries deal with elder people. Whereas in Germany, lots of them are still actively involved in every kind of activities, in Poland they mostly stay at home and play therefore a far more passive role in society. In Turkey, how to deal with seniors is even less on the agenda of politics: Only 7 percent of the Turkish citizens are older than 64 years.

Highlight of the meeting, as a matter of fact, was the Schuman Parade with its music which even more tightened the already good relationships between old and young towards true friendships. The contributions we had prepared together – whether the intergenerational pics, games, face painting or football tricks – turned out altogether to be a great success.

And not only that: They and the time spent together in order to prepare them really lead some participants to new points of view: “It’s for sure that the meeting made me more willing to be a mentor, helping young people coming to Germany and looking for a job or wanting to study here”, says Hans Peter, 70.

During the three days, borders between juniors and seniors were blurring more and more, even turning around: “Meeting new people, our seniors often were more spirited and open than the youngsters”, Maria summed up with a twinkle in her eye.

These words finally make me revising my lead-in statement – and even now look forward to the next meeting in Turkey this October, when senior and junior partners will meet each other again. ANDREAS, 19

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The „Study Visit“ in Warschau

Persönlicher Eindruck

Jede Person unseres Teams ging offen auf sein Gegenüber zu. Man respektierte die persönlichen Belange und unterstützte sich gegenseitig. Manche sprachlichen Defizite im Englischen wurden schnell helfend gelöst und es blieb genügend Spielraum, auch eigene  Vorstellungen einzubringen. Ähnlich schien es  auch beim polnischen und türkischen Team  gewesen zu sein. Das anfängliche persönliche Beschnuppern wuchs am Tag der „Schuman Parade“ in gemeinsame freundschaftliche Beziehungen.

Was habe ich gelernt, was war für mich neu?

Die Vorbereitung des „Study Visits“, bei der ich als Senior mir einen jungen Menschen als Interviewpartner suchen musste, war ein Grundstein, um auf jüngere Teilnehmer zugehen zu können und einen Anknüpfungspunkt zu haben. Wichtig ist, etwas über seinen Gesprächspartner zu erfahren, aber auch zuhören zu können. Erforderlich halte ich auch, dass jedes Land eigene Gedanken einbringt, um voneinander zu lernen.

Neu  für mich war die Altersstruktur der türkischen Bevölkerung  (nur 7% über 64 Jahre) und dadurch eine andere Sichtweise und zukünftige Aufgabe des Miteinanders „Jung und Alt“.

Ziele des Projektes

Das Treffen war vom polnischen Partner sehr gut organisiert, die Themen gut gewählt und die praktischen Übungen straff geführt. Das Kennenlernen mit Auflockerungsspielen gelang vorzüglich (herzlichen Dank an Perdita). Die Vorbereitung der Schuman Parade mit dem Bemalen der T-Shirts, das Suchen eines Gesprächspartners (jung/alt)  zum Interview, und die Einteilung der Aufgaben im Zelt und deren Vorbereitung wurde freudig aufgenommen.

Die Interaktion mit Besuchern unseres Standes war sehr gut und die einzelnen Beiträge kamen gut an. Höhepunkt war die Teilnahme auf dem ZUGWAGEN bei der Parade, wobei wir „Jungen und Alten“ uns bei den fetzigen Klängen der Musik noch näher kamen.

Mit Sicherheit war das Treffen in Warschau der erste Schritt für mich als älterer Teilnehmer, das Verständnis und die Bereitschaft zu verstärken, jungen Leuten, die zum Studium oder auf Arbeitssuche nach Passau kommen,  als Mentor zur Seite zu stehen.

F a z i t

The „Study Visit“ in Warschau zeigte auf, dass auch verschiedene Kuluturbereiche (Mitteleuropa und Türkei) harmonieren,wenn gegenseitiger Respekt, Verständnis und Einfühlungsvermögen eingebracht werden.

Ganz besonders danke ich  auch unserem Organisator und Guide Andreas, der das bestgeeignete Beispiel für das gegenseitige Verstehen von Senioren und Junioren ist.

Nicht zu vergessen ist auch Perdita, die durch ihre professionelle Förderung und Erarbeitung des Projektes obige Ergebnisse ermöglichte.

Hans Peter Weska, 70


Lächeln! Usmiech! Gülümseme!

Lächeln! Usmiech! Gülümseme! Während unseres Treffens im Rahmen des Grundtvig Programms „Smile“ in Warschau mit Teilnehmenden aus Polen, der Türkei und uns „Passauern“ wurde mir in der Tat häufig ein Lächeln ins Gesicht gezaubert. Ob unsere Margot mit dem jungen Türken Mustafa Fußball spielte oder die junge Polin Ula mit Hans-Peter das Tanzbein schwang. Die Begegnungen waren einzigartig und sie machten deutlich, dass man über Grenzen hinweg und über Generationen hinweg tolle Gespräche führen kann. Besonders spannend war es für mich im Austausch in- und außerhalb des Seminars zu erfahren, welche Bedeutung der Kontakt zwischen den Generationen in den jeweiligen Ländern einnimmt. Beispielsweise war mir nicht bewusst, dass Seniorinnen und Senioren im polnischen öffentlichen Alltag wohl weniger präsent sind als in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit. Der Austausch mit Teilnehmenden anderer Länder ermöglichte also häufig eine andere Perspektive auf die Thematik. Aber auch von unseren Passauern „Seniorinnen und Senioren“ durfte ich einiges lernen. Waren sie doch manchmal unbedarfter, temperamentvoller und unbeschwerter als ich in der Begegnung mit Menschen und in der Erkundung Warschaus. Damit zeigte sich mir, dass die Unterscheidung zwischen „Seniors“ und „Juniors“ sehr relativ sein kann.

Maria, 25

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