Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Isle of Wight United Kingdom
The Isle of Wight is working towards becoming more Age Friendly. In 2016, the Isle of Wight joined the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities. This was the first rural community in the UK to join the Network.
Age Friendly Island is led by Age UK Isle of Wight and is one project in the Ageing Better Programme funded by the BIG Lottery Community Fund. The project is in its fifth and final year of funding. This funding stream is about combating loneliness and isolation of adults over 50.
The Age Friendly Island project has four key outcomes:
Older people will feel they have improved connections within their local community and reduced social isolation
Older people will feel empowered to co produce local policies and services which become more responsive to their needs now and in the future
Older people will feel the Island is Age Friendly: those under 50 will see older people as an asset, recognising their contribution to the community
Older people will feel an increased sense of health, wellbeing and quality of life
With a higher than average ageing demographic on the Isle of Wight the Age Friendly movement is an important initiative for the Island to be a part of.
(Joint Strategic Needs Assessment – The demographics and population 2017 and 18)
- 1 in 4, 27.3% are older than 65, this is the seventeenth highest level than any local authority In England and Wales
- Over the next 10 years the number of 65 – 84 year olds will increase by 20%, whilst the over 85s will increase by 24%.
- 1 in 6 of all households on the island is occupied by a single person over 65
Prior to the Age Friendly Island project receiving funding a range of organisations across the Island recognised the challenges of social isolation and made a commitment to create an ‘Age Friendly Island’. This ‘pledge’ aimed to eradicate social isolation. A vision and strategic engagement project was undertaken whereby 1000+ older people, 63 younger people and 70 organisations shared their vision.
This pledge has now been superseded by the Age Friendly Island Charter, co produced by older Islanders and professionals. To date 35 organisations have shown their commitment in signing up to the charter.
Age Friendly Island is driven by a steering group made up of partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors. This robust group endeavours to take an Island Centred approach, with older people at the heart of their work. We listen to the voices of our older residents, through our quarterly public forums, to ensure that the changes being made are what are needed to enable them to lead a more fulfilled life.
The partnerships that have been developed through the Age Friendly Steering group have led to some key pieces of work that have originated from issues older people have found in aspects of their lives and were raised at the forums.
- Tesco (major food retailer/supermarket) have introduced a ‘Time for You Till’, a till that customers can choose to use if they require more time when paying for their shopping
- Southern Vectis (local bus company) have invested a great deal of time in understanding some of the challenges their older passengers and those with access needs may face
- Age Friendly GP Surgeries framework and toolkit was co produced by older people and those on a patient participation group
The Isle of Wight has one unitary authority and has 39 electoral wards served by 40 councillors. There are 25 parish and 8 town councils with a population of 140,984.
Senior leads from the IW Council are represented on the Age Friendly Island Steering group. We are working with a number of the town and parish councils and have created the role of an Age Friendly Champion. To date we have 13 Age Friendly Champions who have an interest and dedication to drive forward priorities that will benefit the lives of older residents in their local communities. The intention is that the Age Friendly Champions will be embedded within their local areas by the end of the lottery funding, and will continue to carry this work forward.
Over the last five years, the Age Friendly Island team have worked hard to ensure that projects they have set up will be sustainable and continue beyond March 2020. They are producing a number of toolkits and a training manual to represent a legacy to their work.