Organisations unite to empower older people to be heard

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In a significant collaborative effort, an alliance of determined charities and organisations have come together to kickstart a groundbreaking programme, to make Bath and North East Somerset an Age Friendly Community.

Fuelled by funding from St John’s Foundation and Age UK Bath and North East Somerset, this transformative two-year initiative will drive change in the Bath and North East Somerset region to improve the lives of older people.

The programme will revive a local Ageing Well Forum, that hasn’t existed for over a decade, encouraging older people to speak out about the issues that are important to them and their communities.

The feedback will inform a wider Ageing Well Steering Group made up of local government, businesses, health and care services and charities. This will ensure older people’s needs and views are listened to when decisions are made.

As well as an Ageing Well Forum and steering group, the programme will also collaborate with the existing Ageing Well Network, facilitated by Bath and North East Somerset’s Third Sector Group (3SG). The network has so far welcomed 100 participants from 35 organisations supporting older adults.

Simon Allen CEO Age UK Bath & North East Somerset said:

“As we navigate the journey of ageing everyone’s experiences matter. I believe in giving value and a listening ear to each person, especially when decisions that affect us are being made. I’m excited that we’ll soon have a new Ageing Well Forum, the first in over ten years! This forum will help us all pay attention to what matters most to older people and in turn, take collective action. Together we can make Bath and North East Somerset a great place to grow old!”

David Hobdey, CEO at St Johns Foundation said:

“For the first time in history, adults aged 60 and over are now the fastest-growing group in our population. This has shifted the needs of our society, and individual’s lifestyle expectations. We are thrilled to be part of such an exciting project and are confident that the secured funding will lay the foundation for a great start to the Ageing Well Programme. We look forward to seeing the impact this has on the community.”

Director of 3SG, Becky Brooks said:

“This initiative is a testament to the power of collaboration, and we are so grateful to have so many like-minded organisations coming together with us. An Age Friendly Community means older people are not left behind or forgotten and people can stay living in their homes, be part of activities they enjoy and contribute to their communities for as long as possible. These collective efforts are not just for now, they are paving the way for us all on our journey into later life.”

Councillor Alison Born, Bath & North East Somerset Council cabinet member for Adult Services said

“An Age-friendly Community is a place that supports people to age well and live a good later life- somewhere where people can live in their own homes, stay active and contribute to their communities for as long as possible. So I am delighted that Bath and North East Somerset is now joining this growing movement, and to see so many local organisations committed to making our area a better place to age in. It’s important that all council services-  whether that’s our parks, our libraries, or our local transport schemes – help shape more Age-friendly communities.”

As well as the various groups being put in place, next steps for the project include training Community Researchers and creating a ‘State of Ageing’ report which will be fed back to the Network, Local Authority and other decision-makers for discussion and action. The programme will provide an opportunity for many groups to work together to make the area a World Health Organisation recognised Age-Friendly Community.