GREATER Manchester is celebrating the success of its age-friendly neighbourhoods in making the city-region one of the best places in the world to grow older.
In 2018 the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham launched his Age-Friendly Challenge. The challenge recognises the hard work of organisations and older people and finds examples of what being age-friendly actually means, while sharing best practice.
Since then, 53 neighbourhoods, across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, have been recognised as age-friendly.
At an event yesterday (February 6), around 150 representatives from the 53 neighbourhoods gathered at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester with the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, to celebrate all of the success they have had.
The winners took the opportunity to share the work they are doing, learn from each other and to look at to start to look at how the age-friendly neighbourhoods can network in the future, allowing them collaborate and communicate with each other even better.
The Age-Friendly Challenge is open to the voluntary and community sector, public services, and older people's groups working collectively to make their community and neighbourhood more age-friendly. This could include offering community activities and initiatives led by older people, improving older people’s quality of life, and celebrating age-friendly employers.
The first phase for applications was held in 2018 when 32 neighbourhoods achieved age-friendly status. A second round then ran at the end of last year and 21 were recognised as age-friendly.
Successful neighbourhoods have demonstrated there is coordination of age-friendly activity, partnership working across sectors with a wide range of organisations involved, community leadership and a basic understanding of equalities.
New neighbourhoods to be named age-friendly include Brinnington, where activities include a Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying well-being group (see case study), a community garden project and an armed forces breakfast club.
Wythenshawe has also received age-friendly status, with a variety of non-funded community initiatives, funded groups, churches and non-faith groups involved in providing activities for older people.
Wythenshawe Good Neighbours is just one of the initiatives taking place in the area, a group which holds activities including a weekly coffee morning, lunch and craft sessions, a community breakfast on a Saturday where the emphasis is on engaging with veterans, and hot lunch and craft sessions (see case study).
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “All of our age-friendly challenge winners should be proud of the incredible work they are doing to make Greater Manchester a great place to grow older.
“In March 2018 we were recognised by the World Health Organization as the UK’s First Age-Friendly city-region and it is great to have the opportunity to celebrate just some of the many ways our communities made this possible. Our older people are a huge asset to our city-region and have so much to give and these awards really highlight that.
“So much is going on already across Greater Manchester but what is even more exciting is this is just the beginning of us working together to make Greater Manchester an even better place for older people to live.
“A huge congratulations to all the winners for achieving age-friendly status and for all their efforts.”
Age-Friendly Greater Manchester and Equalities Lead Cllr Brenda Warrington said: “We are all growing older, so being age-friendly is in the interest of everyone across the city-region. We can’t rest on our laurels and that is why we are all working hard across all areas – housing, the economy and work, culture, health and transport - to ensure Greater Manchester is truly age friendly and to make the city-region a great place for all of us to grow older.
“All of our winners are the shining lights of age-friendliness in Greater Manchester. The challenge aims to showcase the very best practice and thinking from the voluntary sector, public services and older people’s groups and that is what these neighbourhoods do.
“The winners are fantastic examples of communities and public services coming together to help people age well and live their best life in places they love.
“Congratulations once again to all of our winners.”
The other neighbourhoods recognised as age-friendly in phase two were:
Bolton - Farnworth
Bury - Greenmount, Ramsbottom and Tottington
Manchester - Fallowfield, Gorton, Rusholme and Wythenshawe
Oldham - Saddleworth & Lees
Rochdale - Kirkholt
Salford - Little Hulton
Stockport - Brinnington, Cheadle, Marple and Reddish
Tameside - Denton North, Denton West (Dane Bank), Droylsden and Dukinfield
Trafford - Sale West
Wigan - Standish Village
Brinnington Big Local leads age-friendly work in Brinnington. The group brings together local talent, ambitions, skills and energy from individuals, groups and organisations who want to make Brinnington an even better place to live and grow older.
One element of its work is involving older residents in everything that happens in the area and in 2019 it was recognised as age-friendly with merit as part of the Mayor’s Age-Friendly Challenge.
Amongst the activities that take place is The Adventurers Guild intergenerational Dungeons and Dragons well-being Roleplaying Group, which was founded in July 2015.
The group meets regularly at The Community Hub, on Berwick Walk, Brinnington to enjoy a campaign together.
The group has members of all ages, from teenagers to people in their sixties.
Mark Mitchell, aged 50, is the group’s games master, chair and guild master and was involved in the founding of the group when a friend expressed an interest in starting a Dungeons and Dragons group because there was nothing like it in the area.
Mark had done role-playing games in the past so bought a starter set and the group has taken off from there.
He said: “It has been intergenerational from the start, we’ve had members as young as ten.
“The intergenerational aspect brings a difference in perspective. The younger people run at problems and just hack at them with swords, while the older folk stand back and go ‘if I hit that rock, that rock will land on that panel and flip him over’. The older people try and do the minimum or stand back and think about the situation.
“When there is a puzzle that is where the older people shine.
“Our principle has always been ‘it is not you at the table, it is your dwarf, your elf, your dragon, your barbarian, you can forget all the problems you have got in the world, forget how bad things are in your life, or how bad you think they may be’.
“Come sit at the table for a couple of hours, roll some dice and have some fun. I always say ‘nobody wonders if they have left the gas on when they’re dodging dragon fire’, you can just completely forget everything. It’s just being able to put everything aside.”
Andy Jones, aged 62, is the group’s oldest member and has been attending since 2015.
Mr Jones said: “It’s totally relaxing, totally different, you can forget all your worries and stresses and it’s a really good group of people as well. I’ve met lots of good people and made good friends here.
“It gets very competitive, it’s a very good way of dealing with frustration, that people can use their character to channel some feelings they may have.
“It also gives people the chance to confide in someone about their issues. You can bring some help to people after the game.”
Steve Lindsey, aged 37, also attends the group, he said: “Coming down here it gets me meeting people and friends and socialising. It’s always good to make you laugh.
“Some of the older members of the group, their knowledge of how to paint and get the shading on the figures has been incredible for me.
“If I was to sell this to someone, I’d say ‘come down, you can lose yourself for hours and be anything that you want to be’. It’s that couple of hours of being something you’re not. For a couple of hours you are living a different life.”
The Age-Friendly work in Wythenshawe is led by the Wythenshawe Age-Friendly Network. They work to connect older residents to their neighbourhood and wider community, listening to their voices about services that impact on their lives and helping to make Wythenshawe a great place to grow older.
There is a lot going on for older people in Wythenshawe, with the network co-ordinating what is going on locally and sharing information.
Wythenshawe Good Neighbours (WGN) is just one of the initiatives taking place in the area. They work to connect older people with their community.
A weekly coffee morning is held at Wythenshawe Amateurs Football Club as well as a lunch and craft session on a Thursday and a community breakfast on a Saturday where the emphasis is on engaging with veterans.
One of WGN’s initiatives is a lunch group that meets every Tuesday at Northenden Social Club. The group started in 2016 with just four members but now attracts as many as 30 people coming along to socialise, enjoy some food and get to meet new people.
The group is run by volunteers but is very much led by the older people that attend it.
Founding Director, Marie Greenhalgh, said: “We knew from local residents there was nowhere just to go for lunch. There was a gap and we took that gap up.
“For some of the members it’s the only meal they get to have and socialise every week, so it is important to them.
“While it is run by volunteers, the ladies that come lead it, they tell us what they want to eat and tell us what they want to do.”
Joyce Rhodes, aged 90, has been coming to the group since February 2017, when she saw an advert for the group.
She said: “I live on my own and it took a lot bravado but I was brave enough to come on my own. Coming here gives me a chance to come out and see people.
“It’s for the company. On Sunday when I go to church and Tuesday when I come here are when I get to see people.
“It’s amazing, there’s so many different people here. I try to talk to anybody if they sit and talk to me.
“I am on a scooter and that means I am not able to go too far. If it isn’t in Northenden, I can’t go, so here is local for me.”
Barbara Wiggins, aged 87, said: “I didn’t have many ties in Northenden and I thought I needed to know more people in the community so I started to come down.
“I love to get to know people and the group has helped with that.
“I’ve been on a couple of trips, we went to Llandudno.”
Joan Brown, aged 86, said: “It is a chance to socialise. I just look forward to Tuesday when we all get together. If I couldn’t come here, I would just be sat at home.”
Article Published: 06/02/2020 13:49 PM