UCL Grand Challenges


Intergenerational Perspectives on the Opportunities and Challenges of Growing up in Coastal Towns

Exploring how older generations in coastal towns perceive the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary youth and facilitating intergenerational dialogue for solutions.

Cleethorpes Pier by steve p2008 https://flickr.com/photos/stevepj2009

1 September 2021


Grant: Grand Challenges Special Initiatives—Intergenerational Dynamics
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded:  £9,838 - with additional award of £5,000 UCL and the UK: Building UK research impact award from UCL UK


  • Claire Cameron, IoE Social Research Institute
  • Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal, UCL Culture

Coastal towns used to be thriving centres of commerce and leisure. Now, long-term economic decline has meant that coastal towns are home to some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK, with high unemployment and poorer health and education outcomes. Intergenerational Perspectives on the Opportunities and Challenges of Growing up in Coastal Towns explored how growing up in a coastal town has changed over time, and how older generations perceive the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary youth. This project focused on Grimsby and Cleethorpes, where opportunities have changed dramatically due to declines in tourism and the fishing industry since the 1980s.

This research asked:

  1. What are the changes, continuities and challenges for young people in coastal towns?
  2. What opportunities and solutions do older residents see?
  3. How can co-production methodologies facilitate intergenerational dialogue on these issues?

To do so, the project brought together colleagues with expertise in intergenerational interviewing, co-production and youth studies from UCL’s Social Research Institute, Centre for Global Youth and the Co-Production Collective. The project team ran a participatory methods project with a youth empowerment charity, Young Advisors, in North East Lincolnshire that aimed to compare the experiences of younger and older people growing up in coastal towns. As part of this a wide range of local stakeholders were involved, including the University of Lincoln. Young people were trained as Youth Researchers and carried out interviews, focus groups and walks in the town. We would also draw on the expertise of Young Advisors, NE Lincolnshire’s Voice and Influence and the Intergenerational National Network.

Conducting in-depth interviews combined with arts- and place-based methods, the project facilitated intergenerational dialogue and shared understandings of how young people’s experiences have changed over time, how challenges and opportunities have evolved, and possible ways to overcome these challenges.

The project has resulted in publication of a major report,Growing up in Coastal Towns: Intergenerational Perspectives from NE Lincolnshire

The findings have also led to successful award of co-production strand of an ESRC-funded, mixed methods bid, to examine how growing up in a coastal town impacts on young people’s life chances and how to involve young people in improving both their coastal communities and their own life chances.

Pippa Curtin of Young Advisors noted: 'From my perspective there are several layers to the benefits the project has brought for our organisation and our place: further developing the skills and experiences of our local young people involved in youth voice work which will benefit them and our wider work with them in the future; the commission has recognised the value of the professional input young people bring to something like this project with the right level of investment and support; highlighted our co-production work as good practice; created insights to help inform local developments for the young people and wider community in the borough; developed new networks with local regional and national partners we had previously not connected with. And the commission coming through the Young Advisors network and charity has also helped to raise awareness of the wider charity including the benefits and opportunities of working with young people for the future."

Image Credit: steve p2008