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.
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.
Age Friendly Leeds is one of the eight interconnected priority areas of work set out in the Best Council Plan 2019 – 2021 that flow in particular from Leeds’ three main cross-cutting strategies: Inclusive Growth, Health and Wellbeing, and tackling climate change.
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
- The opportunities and challenges presented by an ageing population are well rehearsed. Older people contribute in countless ways to Leeds’ rich and vibrant communities – through the skills and knowledge that they bring to their local communities, high levels of volunteering, acting formally and informally as community connectors, intergenerational interactions, unpaid caring roles and through the skills and experience they bring to their workplaces
- However, we also know that many older people are also more likely to have multiple long-term health conditions with inequalities disproportionately affecting the poorest in our city. Inequalities in older age are cumulative and have a significant impact on a person’s health, wellbeing and independence. As the baby-boomer generation grows older, there will be a range of implications for public sector service provision
- Our ambition supports an ‘invest to save’ approach, notably across health and social care
Our approach to achieving our ambition to be the best city to grow old in is 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 strategy and action plan is structured around six topic areas adapted for Leeds from the Age Friendly City domains developed by the World Health Organisation:
- 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 with six topic areas based around the WHO domains.
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. 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.