Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Gdynia is a relatively young city that gained municipal rights in 1926. 25 percent of its close to 240000 inhabitants are over 60 years old. The majority took part in developing the city from the beginning, building and working in the port and the shipyard.
Gdynia’s municipal authorities have taken the initiative to create age-friendly environments in the city by informing, engaging, and leading an open discussion about different aspects of seniors’ life. The municipal strategy on seniors and the City Programme of Seniors’ Policy 2015-2020 that was launched in 2014 focus on three key areas: activation, participation and social care.
1. Activation aims to develop diverse activities that are important and in the interest of older citizens to be more active, healthy and educated:
- The Gdynia Activation Center was established to enhance and coordinate diverse activities for seniors in Gdynia: the Third Year University with its education offer of 50 different lectures and workshops, hobby and sport activities – developed for all citizens over 60 years old. Over 10.000 people participate every year in these offers.
- Seniors Clubs are places with diverse education and cultural offers, with great potential of local engagement and integration created by the municipality and by local organizations at proximity of people’s homes in 22 districts of the city. In 2013 over 30.000 people attended activities organized by seniors’ clubs
- Gdynia 55+ is a project that aims to awaken the potential and the activity of people just before entering the senior age
- www.seniorplus.gdynia.pl – a web page was launched in 2014 to better inform and communicate with senior citizens about the offers of the city. The core of its potential is that it is built and managed by seniors themselves as the place of sharing the interests, hobbies and experiences.
2. Participation – the process of engaging seniors into decision making process is a continuous activity but we realize that the dialogue with seniors as the mechanism of enabling this group of citizens is important not only because of demographic changes but to build the real democracy and citizenship:
- Gdynia Council for Seniors the advisory body with representation of seniors, NGOs and members of the Third Year University together with representatives of local authorities is a crucial part of advisory and decision making process.
- Civil Panel For Seniors – the research methodology to engage this group of citizens to share their opinion on different aspects of their life – such as preferred channels of information and communication, active participation in civil life and local environment, the quality of social services and different activities for seniors.
- Participation to create friendly and safe urban space – activities and consultations with seniors are intended to examine the stage of adjustment of urban areas in different parts of Gdynia by:
- research walks for people with disabilities to point out barriers in the urban space and to show good practices of creating appropriate and friendly environments for all
- research walks for seniors dedicated to analyse the availability of the municipal infrastructure,
- workshops on “Design for All”.
The priority of Gdynia authorities is the best adaptation and safety of public spaces to the needs of seniors. The dialogue about the activation offer of the city and social care services through focus groups has allowed to examine diverse elements of the city policy achievements towards seniors
3. Social care – Gdynia has a specific department for seniors’ support within the social care system and for the implementation of the new way of social services and interactive communication channels with seniors:
- Gdynia Standard of Social Services – the public dialogue on the quality of social services and the implementation into all social services offered by the municipality
- Tele-care System for seniors and disabled people with innovation of social and communication service
- Permanent, temporary and day-care nursing homes
- Social activities in local environments with the purpose of activation, information and senior voluntary service
The urban space is among the key issues of the city to create a friendly and safe environment for seniors taking their needs and expectations into consideration. Solutions adapted to seniors’ requirements have been implemented in the municipal policy as the Presidential Regulation about Gdynia Standards of Accessibility.
We work actively on strengthening the possibilities and living conditions for elderly inhabitants of Gdynia continuously. Our key areas mentioned above has been developed developed further since we have joint the WHO AFCC network:
1. Activation aims to develop diverse activities that are important and in the interest of older citizens to be more active, healthy and educated: Gdynia Senior Center runs a number of courses, Third year university and coordinates local senior clubs.
In the last 2 years we have implemented the idea of “Havens”- local community centers in Gdynia, created to integrate residents and provide them with space to develop interests and execute ideas. Haven centers operate as network (developing in the years to come) and base on a frame model but each one is unique and fits in the local context. Every Haven stands out with the energy, needs and ideas of local residents creating it; therefore, the city complements the program offer of the each center with activities of libraries, Gdynia’s Sport and Health Centers, seniors clubs, preschools, or daycare, accordingly.
2. Participation – the process of engaging seniors into decision making process is a continuous activity and we put the great impact into engaging the citizens of Gdynia (including seniors) in participatory budgeting as the whole process of diagnosis the needs of local communities and propose the concrete solutions – projects. We also promote and give the wide opportunity to vote for participatory budget for all Gdynia citizens
3. Social care – Gdynia has a specific department for seniors’ support, develop the social care for elderly people based on individual needs.
In all above areas we strongly work to strengthen the potential of local communities, we put the big impact to build the sense of community and intergenerational cooperation.