Practices aimed at renewing relations between generations in neighbourhoods: a publication of the FBPSU

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Brussels, April 2014 – The Belgian Forum for Urban Security, in partnership with the King Baudouin Foundation, recently published a report that presents concrete courses of action aimed at renewing the relationship between young and elderly people in neighbourhoods affected by intergenerational and intercultural tensions. The publication also presents the views of two researchers, Christine Schaut and Pascal Debruyne, who put forward a sociological interpretation of the conflicts between generations in public spaces.

By means of this publication, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Belgian Forum aim to provide greater visibility to local initiatives that have succeeded in reducing tensions between generations living in the same neighbourhood. This publication is also intended to be an opportunity for public authorities and stakeholders to be inspired by tools and concrete practices.

The publication presents over 30 on-the-ground initiatives currently place in various “rough” neighbourhoods in Belgium that have problems with young and elderly people sharing the same public spaces. Both generations have trouble finding their place in the neighbourhood where they live, and tensions arise due to factors such as uncivil behaviour by young people or elderly citizens’ intolerance of young people. These tensions between generations often become intercultural and this misunderstanding can also be fuelled by racism. The purpose of all the various approaches is to overcome these difficulties and they have helped establish a renewed level of trust between the generations, which in turn has reduced frictions.

This collection of initiatives aims to present alternative solutions to repressive responses that do not last into the long term and do not resolve the underlying causes. The projects described in this report demonstrate the benefits of citizen participation in public life as a key starting point for easing everyday conflicts. These initiatives show that citizens are involved in resolving their own problems and become a key element of the solution, which is an apt and sustainable way of improving how they live together.


The publication can be ordered without charge on the Belgian Forum’s website.

A video presentation of three of the 30 experiences featured in the publication is also available: