More cities sign up as Age Friendly Cities

This blog was contributed by Emily Georghiou, Age UK’s Public Affairs Adviser – Age Action. 

I recently had the privilege to attend the 2013 signing of the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities on behalf of Age UK. Over 40 mayors and representatives were present from over 60 cities and municipalities across Europe, all committed to making their localities great places to grow old.

photoThe Dublin Declaration was originally signed in 2011, during the 1st International Conference on Age Friendly Cities.

Building on this and timed to coincide with the Irish Presidency and EU Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing, the Dublin Declaration 2013 includes a new EU pledge to uphold a set of principles to measure, benchmark and drive future development of age friendly cities. Continue reading “More cities sign up as Age Friendly Cities”

Guest blog – LGiU C’llr awards winner!

This blog was contributed by Sue Cooley from Manchester City Council, the winner of the Age UK award  category of the LGiU Councillor Achievement Awards. This award recognises the achievements of a councillor who has championed the interests of older people in their community. 

I have been a councillor since 1996 representing Brooklands ward in the city of Manchester. My role as lead member for Valuing Older People (VOP) and more recently the Age Friendly Manchester Programme began in the last years of the 1990s. At that time I worked closely with the then deputy leader of the council  to develop an approach which said that the role of local authorities shouldn’t begin and end with its social care responsibilities, recognising that the vast majority of older residents -however we define them, do not get a social care services. Moreover, especially in a city like Manchester, many older people faced exclusion from a range of everyday services and activities.

This approach found an echo in the Better Government for Older People Awardsprogramme championed by the Labour Government in the late 1990s. When ground breaking research into ageing in cities (including Manchester) was published in 2002 it coincided with the council’s new project called Valuing Older People which was launched officially in 2003.

Since then VOP has grown from a modest project based in the Manchester Joint Health Unit to a wide ranging programme acknowledged as being innovative but at the same time rooted in Manchester communities. Continue reading “Guest blog – LGiU C’llr awards winner!”

Guest blog: Chorlton for All Ages

This guest blog was contributed by Matthew John Hargreaves an architecture  student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

In 2010, the Valuing Older People team at Manchester City Council was successful in their bid for Manchester to become an Age-Friendly City.  Since then they have worked in collaboration with local partners, including architecture students, to develop an understanding of what ‘Age-Friendly’ actually means in relation to the urban context of Manchester.  As part of this, VOP have been active in the Manchester Ward of Chorlton to help represent the views of older people in the area, contributing towards the development of the regeneration Action Plan that has been outlined from 2010 to 2020.

With my work, and in line with the philosophy of my unit (called msa-p) at the Manchester School of Architecture, I wanted to develop an architectural project that was as accessible as possible.  Accessible not only in terms of the physical design and features of the urban landscape, but accessible in terms of the design process and techniques used to arrive at my final proposals.  Inspired by the work carried out by VOP and driven my desire to represent those who are often excluded by architectural design processes and building developments, i.e. older and younger people, I developed architectural proposals in line with the

Chorlton consultation

Chorlton District Centre Regeneration Action Plan as a form of representation, to highlight the needs of these often overlooked or ignored age groups.

My final proposals and architectural ideas therefore can be seen as an interpretation of the Age-Friendly city concept specific to Manchester, and hope to highlight some of the issues faced by younger and older residents in Chorlton with relation to the regeneration of their community. Continue reading “Guest blog: Chorlton for All Ages”

Guest Blog: The Dublin Declaration – a large step in the right direction

As part of our Pride of Place campaign to promote better neighbourhoods for older people we invited Paul McGarry from Manchester City Council to write this guest blog about his experience of Age Friendly Cities.

I’ve just finished reading an article by well-known social gerontologist Prof Alan Walker who argues (and I’m paraphrasing here) that social policy, in connection with older people, has become dominated by an “individualisation of the social” at the expense of what are sometimes called ‘structural’ explanations of, and policy responses to, ageing societies.

It is a position I have some sympathy with.  Too often it seems that we – the age sector – downplay how society creates the social, economic and political circumstances in which older people create and live their lives.  The result can be the endless pursuit of ‘evidence-based’ short-term interventions, whilst feeling frustration at not being able to tackle the underlying causes of ill-health, poverty or social exclusion in older age.  And sometimes researchers appear content to describe the lives that older people live whilst falling short of setting out arguments for change.

That’s why I’m very enthusiastic about my time at the First International Conference on Age-Friendly Communities held in Dublin on 28th-30th September and which launched the ‘Dublin Declaration.  More of that later.

The conference, which was expertly organised by Anne Connolly and the Irish Ageing Well team, attracted 400 delegates from 42 countries and featured presentations from leading European ageing researchers such as Chris Phillipson, Tom Scharf, Jenny de Jong Gierveld and Sheila Peace as well as planners, designers and political figures from across the globe.  It was also an opportunity to hear the latest from innovative programmes grouped around the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly cities such as New York and Lyon as well as those from the emerging economies.

I shared a platform with Grace Chan who leads an inspirational project in Hong Kong, setting out Manchester’s vision and describing some of the work we’ve done since 2003.  A well-stocked information stall was well received by delegates and Councillor Sue Cooley, Manchester Older People’s Champion, signed the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities on behalf of Manchester.

The Declaration builds on the work done by the World Health Organisation’s age-friendly environments programme.  It is a tightly argued two page document which sets out nine propositions relating to ageing in the C21st and commits signees to short-term action and longer-term objectives.  You can find it here.

I am a member of a small group that is now charged with developing a roadmap for the next phase of this work.  In the UK a number of partners are focusing their work on this agenda through a working group of the Age Action Alliance as a step towards establishing a UK wide network of cities.

My view is that in these difficult days the Declaration and the international movement attached to it offer an excellent opportunity to tackle some of the tough structural challenges we face.   I would encourage all local authorities, other agencies and in particular public health teams to endorse the Declaration and join the movement to create places, which as we say in Manchester, are “great to grow old”.

Paul McGarry, Senior Strategy Manager, Valuing Older People, Public Health Manchester

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