It’s been such a pleasure working on the Ageing Better guide for housing associations. A job made easy by all the fantastic work the 14 Ageing Better areas are doing across the country to work alongside older people to reduce social isolation and loneliness.
It seemed natural for South Yorkshire Housing Association to take on this piece of work. As the only housing association leading an Ageing Better programme nationally, it was important to us to be able to share all the good (and not so good!) stuff we have learned within Age Better in Sheffield and across the programme nationally with our colleagues in the sector.
And what a lot of learning we have! Five years in to a six-year programme, Ageing Better areas have worked with over 100,000 people over the age of 50 to understand what interventions, activities and projects work to support them to reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The stats are impressive – 1 in 2 people engaged live alone, 1 in 4 are from BAME communities, 1 in 5 are carers. We are already starting to see significant signs of impact; to date 50% feel less lonely, 51% feel less socially isolated and 59% report an increase in their quality of life.
The National Lottery Community Fund are well under way in their work to look across the 14 programme areas to identify key themes of learning, whether that’s the role of food in building connections and relationships or reducing social isolation in LGBT+ communities aged over 50, and many more. The great news is that housing associations have access to all of this to inform their work on this agenda.
For me, the guide is much more than just sharing the things we’ve learned. It’s about working together as a sector, to use what the Ageing Better programme and other great initiatives featured in the guide tell us about how we can reduce isolation and loneliness in our communities. It’s saying that we could do this alone and do a decent job, but we’d do it so much better if we work together, if we share our expertise and learning and if we are led by the people who this programme is for.
And luckily for us, this is where Clarion Futures wanted to work with us. Sarah Mitton and the team had heard about the Ageing Better programme and were keen to find out more. They kindly hosted a launch for the guide on 25th November and invited colleagues from across the sector to come along and find out more. This went so well that they have now put on some more learning events. The next one is on 20 January 2020.
Head of Partnerships
South Yorkshire Housing Association