Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Leeds United Kingdom
Age Friendly Leeds is one of the eight interconnected priority areas of work set out in the Best Council Plan 2020 – 2025 which sets out our ambition for Leeds to be the best city in the UK: compassionate and caring with a strong economy, which tackles poverty and reduces inequalities; working towards being a net zero carbon city by 2030. We want Leeds to be a city that is distinctive, sustainable, ambitious, fun and creative for all, with a council that its residents can be proud of as the best council in the country. But most of all, in light of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, we want Leeds to be a safe city.
Our ambition for Age Friendly Leeds is to be the Best City to Grow Old in: a place where people age well, where older people are valued, feel respected and appreciated, and are seen as the assets they are.
Why is it important?
- Older people have told us they want Leeds to be an Age Friendly City
- Our population is ageing, the 2011 Census showed that 110,000 people were aged 65+ and 15,000 were aged 85+. This number is continuing to increase, for the ten years from 2009 to 2019, Leeds population grew by 6.6%, but the number of people aged 65+ went up by 13.6%.
- Inequalities in older age are cumulative and have a significant impact on health, wellbeing and independence.
We are taking a citizenship approach, applying to the entire population. This approach:
- ensures that there is a strong focus on social networks within neighbourhoods and the city
- promotes social capital and participation
- age-proofs and develops universal services
- tackles inequalities and reduces social exclusion
- aims to change social structure and attitudes
Our Age Friendly programme of work extends beyond health and social care to include transport, the built environment, social and cultural opportunities, volunteering, employment and learning and keeping people healthy and active. Our focus is on those who are most at risk of missing out on a good later life. Our strategy and action plan is structured around six topic areas adapted for Leeds from the WHO Age Friendly City domains:
- Public and Civic Spaces
- Travel and road safety
- Active, included and respected
- Healthy and independent ageing
- Employment and Learning
Building on previous work
The Time of our Lives Charter and action plan, 2012 to 2016, built on the previous work around ‘Healthy and Active Lives for Older People’ and ‘Older Better’. Work progressed under the Time of Our Lives action plan on key priorities, most notably work led by Public Health and Adult Social Care, but also vital areas including: Parks, Sports, Libraries Museums and cultural organisations in the city. ‘Making Leeds the Best City to Grow Old in’ built on the achievements of Time of Our Lives with work streams structured around the World Health Organisation Age Friendly domains. Our most recent Age Friendly Leeds action plan and strategy (2019 – 2022) takes this work forward.
The Age Friendly Leeds Project Board, chaired by the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, provides strategic leadership. Membership includes the leads for the action plan, and representatives of Leeds Older People’s Forum and the Centre for Ageing Better. We also have an Age Friendly Leeds Partnership which has good representation from across the Council and Partners (including older people and, third sector and universities). The partnership is open to any organisation interested in and committed to the interests of older people.
Leeds Older People’s Forum was established in March 1994 and has grown to a citywide membership of over 100 voluntary sector organisations working with older people across Leeds, including the Neighbourhood Network Schemes.
LOPF is in the final year of a 6-year programme of funding from the Big Lottery Fund amounting to £1 million a year over 6 years. This programme, called Time to Shine, aims to support people who are at risk of, or are experiencing social isolation and loneliness in order to find out how to best tackle these issues in the future. Covid-19 has added huge challenges to the programme, greatly increasing the risk of loneliness, particularly amongst older people. In December 2020 LOPF were very pleased to announce that the Time to Shine programme has been granted a one year extension by the National Lottery Community Fund, as recognition of the work already done by their delivery partners across the city and by the other National Lottery funded Ageing Better programmes across England. The focus of this extra year will be to respond to the mental and physical health needs of older people as a result of lockdown, building confidence to enable people to get out, when it is safe for them to do so.
In October 2017, Leeds City Council and Leeds Older People’s Forum signed a five year agreement with the Centre for Ageing Better. The partnership has brought support and resources for research and innovation in some of our key areas – Community Transport, Community Action, Housing advice and information, and Age Friendly employers.
Neighbourhood Network Schemes
The very first Neighbourhood Network Scheme was established in Leeds in 1985. Leeds now has 37 council funded neighbourhood networks, which support more than 21,900 older people across the city. they are voluntary sector organisations, run for older people by older people, providing a range of services, activities and opportunities promoting the independence, health and well-being of older people throughout Leeds. The long term investment the Council has made into the 37 Neighbourhood Networks means that we have a network of organisations close to their communities, who can respond quickly and flexibly during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent evaluation, commissioned by our partners, the Centre for Ageing Better demonstrates the importance of organisations like the neighbourhood networks in terms of community participation.
The Centre for Ageing Better are co-authoring a State of Ageing in Leeds report with the Council and Leeds Older People’s Forum. This will use existing quantitative data and the voices of people approaching and in later life to illustrate and bring the data to life. The process of developing the report involving workshops, testing and interpreting the data will produce a shared narrative about what matters for Age Friendly Leeds. This will be used as the basis for refreshing our age friendly strategy and action plan. An opportunity to review where we are and what else we need to do to continue on our Age Friendly journey.