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Talking Heads


City of Rotterdam


The Talking Heads skype dialogue between  young persons and elderly is a means to enhance social cohesion and integration. Through this programme, elderly learn how to communicate online, which will extend their horizon. Additionally, it is a means for them to use their knowledge and experience and remain active. In turn, the  young persons improve their language- and digital skills, gain awareness of their own norms and values, expand their network and get the opportunity to continue studying and thereby improve their chances on the job market.


Kletskoppen (Dutch) or Talking Heads is inspired by a project carried out in the US and Brasil. Through skype, young persons from Brasil looking to improve their  English language skills contact elderly in a carehome in the US. In Rotterdam this format was futher developed  in cooperation with the ‘for each other’ programme, which seeks reduce loneliness amongst the elderly and utilize their living- and  workingexperience throug sharing it with others. The curriculum and execution were developed in cooperation with the Albeda Startcollege (vocational education institution) and care organisation Humanitas Bergweg. Now, the concept is freely accessible to organisations and schools.

The skype-pilot pursued various goals:
•    Increase the language skills of young persons at risk involved in a training to prepare them for  MBO (vocational training)
•    Enlarge their network
•    Gain knowledge of living and working in Rotterdam
•    Increase awareness of  personal norms and values
•    Improve digital skills

For the elderly involved in the project:
•    Sharing knowledge and experience
•    Enhance network
•    Get familiar with digitalization

Talking Heads is a 10 week programme, involving a 1 hour conversation each week. Halfway through the programme the young persons visit the elderly in their care home, in order for them to meet in person.
Themes for converstion: work, hobby, clothing, food, the city, school, youth, health, music is my passion and the photobook.


Facilitated through Ipads, WiFi, headphones and microphones, technical support is necessary as a basis.
A safe environment where both the elderly and young people can overcome their hesitation to talk to each other
For both groups of permanent guidance to solve both technical and communication problems
The youngsters were at a separate location from the elderly. This can be at there school or other location of interest.
During the 10 weeks program a weekly contact between the teacher and the supervisor of the seniors.


Talking Heads now is part of the curriculum and young persons will receive a certificate of participation upon completion. The concept is freely accessible to organisations and schools.


•    Both target groups get very involved through the personal contact
•    The young persons learn from the experiences of the seniors and show respect
•    The young persons learn a lot about life in a big city and local customs
•    Almost all young people want to do a short internship in the nursing home
•    The teacher experiences a lot of satisfaction because, as the weeks progress, the young people find it more and more fun to have contact with the elderly city dwellers in this interactive way
•    The seniors experienced the introduction to Skype as added value for their private life. They can now skype with (small) children abroad
•    There is mutual respect for each other's situation
These points (and more) were delivered by an evaluation after every 10 week program.



High degree / regularly

Gender sensitivity:

High degree / regularly

Culture sensitivity:

High degree / regularly

Doable (practical):

High degree / regularly


Minimal / low

Replicable and adaptable:

High degree / regularly


High degree / regularly

Type of good practice

Methods, Practical tool, Organisational structure or tool


Democratic dialogue, Social inclusion, Youth civic participation



Type of activity

Mixed (individual and/or group sessions)


Factsheet, Script/scenario (talking points), Photo book, Devices with skype


Willy Wolters


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