Age Allies Blog #6 – Volunteers

“There is a commonly held belief that as people get older they become less competent. My experience of developing the Age Allies Workshops in collaboration with a group of volunteers, underlines how absurd this notion of older people actually is. The creativity, insight and commitment they bring to the table makes our development meetings productive and great fun. Authentic, open, honest and intelligent are the words that spring to mind. Oh yes, and highly competent!”

This week on the Age Allies Blog, Project Coordinator Richard Norman opens the floor to two of the Age Allies volunteers, who discuss their experiences of the project.

What can Councils do for older Londoners?

What can Councils do for Older Londoners?

“Many of the things we are calling on Councils to do also help tackle loneliness, a problem for many older people (and not only older people). A preventive approach to health and social care could support services like befriending which tackle isolation. Better pavement and street repair and more accessible neighbourhoods will encourage people to come out and take part in their local community.”

With the local council elections taking place this week, Gordon Deuchars answers the question: What can Councils do to make their boroughs age friendly?

Private Rented Sector

Age and the Private Rented Sector

“The Home Improvements report is a timely intervention, which showcases the challenges that face “the Millennial Generation” in the present day and the years to come. It also dovetails nicely with our own report Living in Fear: Experiences of Older Private Renters in London, which performed a similar investigation into the difficulties facing older Londoners that rent privately.

If it is indeed true that a third of Millennials face renting for their entire lives, then our findings suggest that large scale changes need to be made in order to meet these tenants’ needs as they grow older. This is especially urgent, considering that The number of private-renting households for those aged 45-64 has more than doubled in the last ten years and recent estimates suggest that the number of private-renters in London aged 65 and over could double between 2014 and 2039.”

This week, a report from the Resolution Foundation has found that up to a third of young people face living in private rented accommodation for all of their lives. We offer our knowledge of the private rented sector, the affect it has upon many older tenants and the changes that need to be made to meet the needs of present and future older tenants.

Entelechy Arts 21st Century Tea Dance

Entelechy Arts – Growing Older Creatively

“Entelechy Arts’ weekly programmes have given people the opportunity to uncover forgotten or hidden skills and aspirations. The company now works with a network of over two hundred older singers, actors, poets, dancers, artists: ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Work has happened in the lounges of sheltered housing schemes, community halls and arts centres. One of Entelechy Arts’ projects, Walking Through Walls, supports older residents living in care homes to get creative where they live as well as outside within the wider community.”

This May, Entelechy Arts are hosting a Royal Wedding 21st Century Tea Dance in the refurnished Queen Elizabeth Halls in London’s Southbank Centre. Find out all about the event and the ways in which the arts dramatically improve the wellbeing of older Londoners.

An older man and two older women laughing over a cup of tea

Our Manifesto: Make London’s Boroughs Age Friendly!

“The London local elections are rapidly approaching, with polling day set for Thursday May 3rd. Four years on from the last London borough elections, all London borough councillor seats are set to be decided, alongside Mayoral contests in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets.

As London continues to grow in size, the number of older Londoners is increasing too – a 2016 estimate revealed that over a million Londoners were aged 65+ and 140,000 of that total were over the age of 85. A socially and economically diverse demographic, older Londoners contribute massively to every borough of the capital, as paid workers, volunteers, carers, family members, community activists, and in a whole host of other ways. As the number of older Londoners continues to increase, so too will these vital contributions to city life.

However, there are also a large number of older Londoners who are experiencing poverty and inequality, just like London’s other demographics. Whilst poverty amongst older people had been falling, there has sadly been a recent increase in the number of people who have dipped below the poverty line in later life. London’s housing crisis continues to affect people of all ages, with a serious lack of affordable housing in many areas. Loneliness too is an intergenerational concern, yet isolation is a particular concern for the older generation. The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness has discovered that ‘more than 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control.'”

Age UKs across London are proud to present “Make London’s Boroughs Age Friendly!” a manifesto for the upcoming London borough Council elections.

Age skills charity sector

Age and Skills in the Charity Sector

“By and large however, candidates are saying that it’s being “older” that’s the problem. And generally that means over 40, with 41% of candidates over 40 saying they’ve been discriminated against on account of their age in the charity sector. We never expected age discrimination to be the candidates’ biggest complaint.”

This week on the our blog we hear from Jean Merrylees of charityjob.co.uk, who discusses their recent research into age and skills in the charity sector. With some surprising results…

Hundreds of runners taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon run along the river bank

Run the Royal Parks Half Marathon!

It was a strangely sunny October day when our five fantastic fundraisers started the first of the thirteen miles that make up the 2017 Royal Parks Half Marathon. We were so proud of our runners, who put in all the effort to train and fundraise in the months leading up to the big day, before performing brilliantly across the entire 13.1 mile course – raising over £2000 to help London to love later life in the process!

Now it’s your turn.

There are still spaces available for the 2018 Royal Parks Half Marathon! Here’s all you need to know to run on behalf of Age UK London!

Let Participants Lead Workshop Activities!

“Sometimes we are led to believe that projects such as a ten minute theatre performance by amateur actors with dementia is successful, but this may not be the case as an unusual and sophisticated art project doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the participants. There is a hidden danger in progressive projects which are sometimes designed to attract participants and promote the work of the company or facilitator organising them, and not to serve the needs of the participants. It’s a blessing that so many artists and organisations are using art in healthcare settings but most of the time there are no assessments of the individuals’ needs or an evaluation of these projects. We keep proving success by showing pictures with older people laughing while they are holding a puppet or a brush. If the camera lens is focused on a happy older lady doing yoga, then out of frame is likely to be an older man with advanced dementia, who is asleep on an armchair. Does this make this activity successful?”

Activities in care homes can have a huge impact upon the lives of older people, but we must make sure the workshops cater to the needs of the participants, not the performers! Eirini Dermitzaki explores how we can make sure care home activities best serve older Londoners.

A view of London overlooking the Thames.

When will London join the Global Age Friendly Cities Network?

“When will the capital join the global Age Friendly Cities network? Manchester and Bristol are marching ahead and Southwark has taken the plunge – so what can be done to commit London to join the global Age Friendly Cities Network? New York is a member but when you search #agefriendlylondon you find yourself reading about London in Canada! London’s piecemeal approach is indicative of lack of leadership and collaboration on older people’s issues.”

How can we get London to be as age friendly as possible? Jane Scobie investigates…

A starry night sky

Close Encounters of the Third Age

“We have looked at, and tried out a number of exercises designed to achieve this, from simple small group discussions to various role-play scenarios, but they weren’t cutting the mustard. One of our number, Vanda, who, incidentally used to teach games design, came up with the concept of a board game. This idea has really captured everyone’s imagination and our last few development meetings (now described as board meetings) have been fun and intensely creative events.”

Richard Norman keeps us updated on the Age Allies program, which now has its own board game – Close Encounters of the Third Age!