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Mobility Scouts: Engaging older people

Status: Ongoing

Vienna (AT), Hanau (DE), Zutphen (NL), Rome (IT), Kaunas (LT) Germany
Print this page City population: 2400000Practice started in 2016


Mobility Scouts is an Erasmus+ project implemented by partners working in the fields of social policy and research, social gerontology and adult education in Austria (Vienna, queraum. social & cultural research) , Germany (Hanau, ISIS), Italy (Rome, Lunaria), Lithuania (Kaunas, Seniors Initiatives Center) and the Netherlands (Zutphen, OVN-NL). The Mobility Scouts project was implemented in both larger and smaller cities and lasted from October 2016 until September 2018.

The overall objective of the Mobility Scouts project was to involve older men and women in decision-making processes and enable and empower them to contribute to the creation of age-friendly environments and services as co-producers. Older men and women in all partner countries were trained to initiate and participate in co-production processes at all stages, from the identification and evaluation of age-inappropriate environmental features and spaces, to the redesigning of community spaces and public environments, and the communication of research findings and age-friendly principles.

The project’s training thus resulted in environmental changes and improvements which were sensitive to older people’s needs, local specificities, and any involved partners’ interests at the same time. In doing so, Mobility Scouts brought together older citizens and local authorities and service providers to cooperate in the development of age-friendly environments and services, which was were defined in broad terms: ranging from the design and organisation of public spaces, to mobility or the accessibility of services (e.g. transportation).



Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Other target group(s): local stakeholders, local authorities, companies, organizations

Sector(s): Information and communication, Transportation, Urban development

Other sector(s): Mobility, Social Participation

Desired outcome for older people:
Learn, grow and make decisions

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Ageism
  • Accessibility
  • Ageing in place
  • Healthy behaviours (e.g. physical activity)
  • Intergenerational activities
  • Inclusion
  • Participation

Contact details

Name: Rappauer, Anita

Email address:

Preferred language(s): English, German

Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community

Project lead: Research institution

Others involved in the project:
  • Local authorities
  • Civil Society Organisation
  • Older People’s Association
  • Social or health care provider
  • Volunteers
  • Private sector
  • Research institution

How collaboration worked: At EU level project partners (queraum. social & cultural research, EU coordination; ISIS; Lunaria, Seniors and OVN-NL) met five times during the 2 years of the project, jointly developed the Mobility Scouts Training, shared experiences and planned further steps. Each partner implemented the training in their country and supported Mobility Scouts and cooperation partners in realizing their local projects.

Older people’s involvement: Older people were involved in the age-friendly practice at multiple or all stages

Details on older people’s involvement: The Mobility Scouts Training supported older men and women in: getting background information on issues such as accessibility and age-friendly environments; reflecting on the situation in their living environment; contributing to an age-friendly environment by developing and implementing local projects; promoting creative and critical thinking, analytical reasoning, team work, planning and reflection of individual skills; supporting cooperation with relevant stakeholders.

Moving forward

Has the impact of this age-friendly practice been analysed: No

Do you plan to evaluate your age-friendly practice? Yes

Some feedback and quotes from our Mobility Scouts and cooperation partners:

‘The training was successful. It has resulted in a new perspective: I have learned to view my living environment through age-friendly glasses’. – Mobility Scout in Zutphen (NL)

’In the training I learned how to start with an idea and develop a concrete project’. – Mobility Scout in Vienna (AT)

‘Now that I’m growing older, I actually know what that means! I need to think ahead about important issues like where do I want to live, and what do I need?’ – Inhabitant of Zutphen

‘The discussion broadened the views of both groups and helped to formulate more constructive proposals to the round table on public transport.’ – Cooperation partner in Kaunas, Lithuania

‘It is very good to realise that public authorities are open-minded and take our issues seriously. And also my perspective changed: Whereas I used to complain, I am more aware of concrete offers that are already there.’ – Mobility Scout in Vienna (AT)

‘I realised that my ideas, which I find sometimes a little bit absurd, are heard.’ – Mobility Scout in Vienna (AT)

Expansion plans:
The official end of the funding period of this project is 30 September 2018. However, all partners are motivated to continue the work on the issue of age-friendly environments and are developing ideas for ongoing initiatives to further develop the Mobility Scouts approach (at EU and national level) and providing supporting structures for our Mobility Scouts.

Looking back

At local levels, providing the following resources and support are important for the success of this project:

– Organisational support and infrastructure
Mobility Scouts need a workplace that allows them to organise meetings and/or to offer consulting hours for citizens who want to contact them about problems or project ideas. These rooms can be located in community centres, district offices, rooms of a Third Age University branch or day centres – locations in general with a low barrier of accessibility for older people. Furthermore, the work of Mobility Scouts requires office equipment (such as computers, telephones and an internet connection).

Cooperation partners could also provide framework conditions, such as allowances, accident and third-party liability insurance and other aspects of the legal framework conditions (e.g. data protection).

– Know-how and networks
Within the Mobility Scouts project, some cooperation partners contributed to the training by bringing their expertise to the table (e.g. in urban planning, accessibility, participation of citizens) and sharing methods as well as good practices.

Furthermore, cooperation partners are an important resource in terms of networking. The work of Mobility Scouts becomes more effective and enhanced by cooperation with organisations that are well-known in the field of mobility, transportation or civic participation (e.g. mobility agency, district office, citizen advice services, agenda offices) or with service providers, companies or public bodies. Cooperation with relevant lobby groups for older people, such as trade unions, were also considered. Dutch experts recommended cooperating with existing movements and projects that need a local community to succeed (e.g. development of life-course housing).

– Support in public relations
Promotion activities are very important to raise awareness of an issue and generate resonance and attention. Due to the fact that older people often still do not use the internet, local, regional or national newspapers are seen as the most important channels for public relations. This also includes publications by parishes. Older people’s organisations may also play a role in the dissemination of developments regarding Mobility Scouts and communicate to a broad (older) public.

– Acknowledgement
The recognition of the Mobility Scouts’ achievement by local authorities is mentioned as a significant factor which should be kept in mind to motivate the Mobility Scouts in the long run. Signs of acknowledgement are, for instance, the provision of physical facilities in municipality buildings which are assigned to the Mobility Scouts, or a designated contact person for the work of Mobility Scouts within the municipality. The inclusion of their work in municipal policies and communication channels is also an effective means of recognising the work Mobility Scouts do.

– Supporting sustainability
Some projects co-produced by the Mobility Scouts were planned and carried out as once-only activities with the potential to be repeated regularly. Other projects can also be set up as recurring or ongoing activities, for instance walks for people with dementia, obstacle mapping, walk-in living room meetings, workshops with schools. However, to guarantee sustainability, cooperation partners play an important role, as they might:

• allocate funds for mobility projects
• provide ongoing support (e.g. training, infrastructure)
• enable the active involvement of older people in the development of an age-friendly environment (e.g. meetings, round tables)
• bring in their ideas for new mobility projects
• support awareness-raising activities for age-friendly issues (e.g. urban age-friendly mobility, transportation, accessible public spaces and toilets, resting places)
• provide their networks and channels for public relations.

We faced the following challenges:

1) Promoting Mobility Scouts: promoting age-friendly environments and the Mobility Scouts programme by means of a general leaflet turned out to be difficult. While the leaflet turned out to be very useful to inform stakeholders at national and EU level, partners found that the information and communication about Mobility Scouts needed to be adapted from a general level to local contexts when used in municipal or community levels. Partners handled this by developing materials (leaflets, presentations) which focussed on the city’s local context, preparing local examples of good practices, organising meetings at grassroots level (walk-in living room meetings) and promoting publicity in local door-to-door papers and media outlets.

2) Implementation of the Mobility Scouts Training: To find older citizens willing to become Mobility Scouts turned out to be a challenge in some partner countries. People who meet the profile of a potential Mobility Scout are mostly people who are already actively involved in other projects, and thus did not have much time to invest in our training or to take on any more projects or activities. However, we learned from the grass-roots meetings we held that there are a lot of older people expressed an interest to think along, support or even perform small tasks in future Mobility Scouts projects and activities. To promote the project and the training scheme, local media and grass-root events, such as the voluntary trade fair and walk-in room meetings, were most helpful.