Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Leeds United Kingdom
In Leeds, we believe that all older people should feel valued in their community and live healthy, fulfilling lives with adequate access to, and choice and control over, any support that they may need. We also want to ensure that health inequalities are reduced for all population groups including older people.
In August 2014 the council issued a rallying cry to local businesses, groups and individuals, challenging them to make Leeds the country’s best city for older people.
Why is it important?
• The 2011 Census shows that there are almost 150,000 people in Leeds are aged 60 and over (accounting for almost 20% of the total population). This number will continue to increase with the number of people aged 50+ expected to rise to 256,585 by 2021, with those aged 80+ increasing to 39091.
• Ensuring Leeds was an age friendly city was identified as a priority area by older people.
• Inequalities in health are a key issue for older people with ill health and social impacts affecting the poorest in the city disproportionately.
• Making Leeds the ‘Best City to Grow Old’ will have a hugely positive impact on our ability to deliver other breakthrough projects and supports an ‘invest to save’ approach, notably across health and social care.
Our approach to Making Leeds the best city to grow old in is a citizenship approach, applying to the entire population. It therefore does not include all the programmes of work in relation to health and social care for older people, which are picked up elsewhere, whilst recognising that there are obvious links and synchronicities.
The 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; reduces social exclusion and works to change social structure and attitudes.
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’ is building on the achievements of Time of Our Lives with work streams structured around the World Health Organisation Age Friendly domains.
An action plan has been developed which is structured around the eight WHO domains with an identified lead officer from the council for each domain. Progress is reported quarterly to the Best City to Grow Old in Project Board.
The Making Leeds the Best City to Grow Old in 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. This is supported by the existing Age Friendly Leeds Partnership which has good representation from across the Council and Partners (including older people and the third sector).
The 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 presently half way through 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.
In October 2017, Leeds City Council and Leeds Older People’s Forum signed a five year agreement with the Centre for Ageing Better. This partnership is looking initially at three areas: Community Transport, Community Action, and Housing.
Neighbourhood Network Schemes
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 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. The neighbourhood networks have recently won national praise in a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research and were highlighted as an example of good practice which should be replicated nationally.
A number of the neighbourhood networks have also engaged community connectors from their local areas, who are helping people to pass on their skills and knowledge to older residents through a new scheme which is part of the Seniors Network Support (SeNS) project.