We’ve launched a brand new campaign to make London an Age-friendly City. Our new Campaigns Officer John McGeachy explains how we can achieve this:
We’ve all heard London referred to as the music capital of the world or even the finance capital of the world; what you are unlikely to have heard is the claim that London is the Age-friendly capital of the world. As things stand it would be hard to make that case. Here at Age UK London we want to change that.
Knowing where to start is a daunting prospect but thanks to last June’s announcement that the Mayor had signed London up to the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Community we have a strong platform to build on. Age UK London first called for London to sign up as an Age-friendly City ahead of the 2016 Mayoral Elections and whilst we now have a commitment from the Mayor it will be actions on the ground that decide whether we earn the right to call London an Age-friendly City.
The past 10 years has seen over 800 cities and communities join the WHO’s Age-friendly Global network. All of them are committed to promoting healthy and active ageing and a good quality of life for older residents. From Housing to Civic Participation and Employment the WHO has outlined eight areas of life where changes can be made to improve the lives of older people. You can find out more about the eight ‘domains’ at www.agefriendlylondon.org.uk.
Over the coming years, Age UK London’s campaigning activity will be guided by the WHO’s definition of an Age-friendly City and earlier this month I joined the team to help develop campaigns that will make a very real difference to the lives of older Londoners.
This summer we’ll be launching new Age-friendly campaigns and we’re currently working with partners, doing our own research and most importantly listening to older people in order to plan the right campaigns. Some changes can be made quickly whilst others will take longer and we are looking into the impact we can have in areas such as access to transport, safety at home and barriers to active ageing. From the Mayor’s Office and Borough Councils to companies and public services such as the London Fire Brigade we’ll be persuading and supporting public bodies to make changes that will improve the lives of older Londoners.
Whilst there’s a lot to do it’s important to recognise positive changes that have already happened and learn from other cities working to become more Age-friendly. Here in London the Mayor’s Office have committed to protect the Freedom Pass and over-60s Oyster Card and are also making an additional 30 Underground stations step-free.
Outside of London we can learn from other Age-friendly cities like Leeds which has recently introduced their Come in and Rest scheme which encourages local businesses to allow older people to take a break in their premises without the obligation to make a purchase. In Manchester the City Council have developed an Older People’s Charter which they are promoting to organisations and businesses across the city. Much closer to home, both Southwark and Lewisham are now Age-friendly Communities. In both boroughs Age UK Lewisham and Southwark are working with Southwark S.A.I.L (Safe and Independent Living) and Lewisham S.A.I.L. Connections as well as the Council to help older residents access the right support services.
We want to make the widest Age-friendly movement we can and whether you are a member of an older people’s group or Forum or simply want to be an Age-friendly London campaigner I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0207 820 6785.
If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on with our Age-friendly London campaign, you can sign up to our mailing list here.