An organisation, that works to reduce loneliness and isolation for older people, launched its vision for Age Friendly Middlesbrough at an event in the Town Hall Crypt this week (14 November).
More than 70 people, representing charities and the private and public sectors, heard what age friendly means for the town and why it is so important to involve older people in decisions that will impact on their lives.
Joining 27 other areas in the UK Network of Age Friendly Communities, Middlesbrough will work towards receiving World Health Organisation status as a recognised Age Friendly place to live.
Speakers at the event included the Mayor Dave Budd, Catherine Parker from Public Health, Michelle Dawson from Ageing Better Middlesbrough and Ange Jones from the Centre for Ageing Better.
However, the loudest applause was saved for host Geoff Kerr-Morgan, and speakers Sven McLean and Helena Gordon – three members of Ageing Better Middlesbrough. As older residents of the town their personal experiences and opinions were a valuable insight into the barriers that many older people face every day, including transport, accessible public toilets and a lack of seating areas.
Michelle Dawson, Programme Manager for Ageing Better Middlesbrough, said: “An Age Friendly Middlesbrough is not about creating something new. It is about building on the great work already taking place, within our programme, and across town. It is about creating a place where people of all ages can lead happy and healthy lives.
“It will always be a work in progress as we create more ways for organisations and older people to come together and talk about what matters to them, take action and drive change.”
Middlesbrough Mayor, Dave Budd, said: “The event was inspiring. The ambition to be an internationally recognised Age Friendly place is challenging, but working together it is a goal we can and will achieve.
“The aims fit very well with Middlesbrough Council’s ambitions and we are fully behind the great people driving this forward.”
Ange Jones, Age Friendly Communities Network Manager, said: “It’s fantastic that Middlesbrough is part of the UK Network of Age Friendly Communities, a growing movement of places working to ensure everyone has an active, healthy and enjoyable later life.
“The communities in which we live must be inclusive of people of all ages and abilities and help us to make the most of our increasing longevity. That means building good transport links, services and amenities, opportunities for everyone to get involved in civic and community life, and places and outdoor spaces for people of all ages to meet and stay active.
“We look forward to working with Ageing Better Middlesbrough to help them make their community a truly age friendly and inclusive place to be.”
Ageing Better Middlesbrough is part of the National Lottery funded Ageing Better programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Ageing Better aims to develop creative ways for older people to be actively involved in their local communities, helping to combat social isolation and loneliness. It is one of five major programmes set up by the Big Lottery Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.