Good Practice Mentors offers free support to organisations that want to reach and connect with older people.
For International Day of Older Persons, Bluebell Evans shares more about the Good Practice Mentors programme, and how they can help you to create welcoming and empowering places in your community.
“An Age-friendly Community is a place that enables people to age well and live a good later life. Somewhere that people can stay living in their homes, participate in the activities they value, and contribute to their communities, for as long as possible.”Centre for Ageing Better, 2023
This year’s theme for International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) encourages people to be proud about their places, to discover the meaning of place, and to commit to make changes in places that are important to them.
By supporting people to feel resilient and connected to the places they’re from, it ensures that local communities can be enjoyed now and for years to come.
Our Good Practice Mentors partners are thinking about older people’s experience of their community, and how older people’s sense of togetherness impacts on their own – and their communities’ – resilience.
As we don’t work directly with older people, we had to think outside the box. While we would have loved to host a ‘Silver Sunday’ event, our dispersed nature makes this difficult. Instead, we’ve chosen to highlight the work we do and the free support we offer.
Some older people perceive activities in their local area as ‘not for them’, and this can lead to a disconnect from their communities. Age UK Camden share learning to help you connect with isolated members of the community and reignite that sense of belonging.
This work has highlighted the importance of neutral community spaces, such as libraries, pubs and cafes, that are more likely to encourage engagement. Jo from Age UK Camden is delivering a session that focuses on the importance of place in finding and engaging people who are harder to reach, and you can sign up for free on Eventbrite.
The social conditions of groups are equally important. If someone receives a warm welcome when attending a group for the first time – such as a cup of tea, a friendly introduction to a member of staff, and an invitation from a group member to join them – they are more likely to return. Leeds Older People’s Forum can tell you more about this in their free workshops and training, or you can find out more in The Warm Welcome Checklists Pack.
As we enter the colder months, the importance of place will be highlighted by the cost-of-living crisis and the challenge to find spaces that are warm and welcoming. Warm Winter Hubs will continue to be vital spaces for older people to seek a safe haven and connect with others. Our collaborative workshops can help you consider whether your winter hub is a safe, welcoming and connecting space for those in your communities, including those who you struggle to reach and engage.
The attitude that people have towards their place could arguably be linked to how the community functions as a collective – community resilience can be improved by and considered as, ‘togetherness’. Here is Eva (98) and Pat (86) giving their thoughts in song!
Torbay Communities have seen the value of engaging with older people to share their passion, energy and skills with their neighbours, friends, and beyond. Torbay Communities continue to share the lessons learnt from over a decade of having Community Builders working in their neighbourhoods, and the creation of a ‘community front door’: an ecosystem of community-led support that was created during lockdown, and brought together volunteers and over 100 VCSEs.
Finally, we know that togetherness is boosted when members of the community feel involved in the decisions that affect their local area and the services they access within it.
South Yorkshire Housing Association has a wealth of experience to share around how to access the voices and insight of older people, and you can find out more in our Stronger Together Co-production Toolkit. Co-production challenges traditional ways of working by taking a collaborative, peer-led approach. Co-producing and co-designing with older people creates opportunities to feel empowered and connected to place.
If we want people in places to feel valued, connected and have a strong sense of belonging, the GPM learning is here to be shared to create a better world for all who live in every place. This International Day of Older People, come and find out more about how we can help you reach, involve and connect with older people and their communities.
Get in touch to connect with us and create togetherness in your world.
Bluebell Evans, Good Practice Mentors Programme Co-ordinator