Institute of Community Studies Working Paper No.7 – May 2004
As one of the activities to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Community Studies (now The Young Foundation), this paper was published to propose the launch of ‘The Grandmother Project’ – a programme aimed at finding a more effective partnership between the family and the state.
This programme has been stimulated by the setting up of Grandparents Plus, the last organisation to be created by Michael Young before his death. GP Plus shares with the Institute a belief in the fundamental importance of extended families. However GP Plus goes further by emphasising that the heart of extended family life lies among older generations. It is this insight which needs to be taken on board by policy-makers, now more than ever, if they are to harness the power of families to underpin the wider society, and to halt the current decline both in family and in community cohesion.
The central factor in the new programme is the place of grandmothers at the heart of family life. It is their concern and care for offspring which holds many families together, and which enables other members of extended families to keep up contact with each other and provide mutual support. The project will revolve around the part played by grandmothers, and the ways in which social policy might be re-oriented to take more account of grannies and their extended families, and to work with them to maximise their beneficial effects.
This discussion paper describes the background of the Grandmother Project, and looks at a few of its features in more detail.