Fit 4 Purpose – Gone but not Forgotten!

March 2017 saw the end of our Fit 4 Purpose project after a four year period. Fit 4 Purpose was a capacity building project funded by London Councils which saw Age UK London work in partnership with Opening Doors London. Considering the success of the project, we thought it’d be good to give it a proper send off in this week’s blog!

Fit 4 Purpose reached over 500 organisations across London, working with them to make sure they could effectively serve older Londoners. All 32 boroughs, including the City of London, had several of their local older people’s organisations taking part in Fit 4 Purpose.

Over 100 workshops took place over the course of the four year period. These sessions were an opportunity to “skill-up” organisations that worked with Older Londoners as well as a chance to network across the capital, sharing intelligence and knowledge to build upon good practice.

The project provided a rolling programme of free workshops, training sessions, and one-to-one support to older people’s organisations.

One area of support involved the sharing of digital skills. The “Digital Democracy” workshops helped older people to have full access to public services and decision making processes in a digital age. As more and more companies move their products and services online, it’s vitally important that older people aren’t excluded from the new formats. Workshops were held between older people’s organisations and volunteer staff from companies such as: CEB Global; Apple; Lorien Consulting and Telstra Global.

Fit 4 Purpose Digital
A key part of Fit 4 Purpose was the development of older Londoners’ digital skills.

Meanwhile, Fit 4 Purpose’s “Introduction to Social Media” and “Getting Online” workshops showed older people’s organisations how to use these tools to improve their communication with their members, undertake outreach, and all while reducing their costs.  “Social Media Champions” were also trained up and linked to older people’s organisations to provide increased confidence in expanding their reach.

Beyond the spread of digital skills, Fit 4 Purpose also concentrated on a set of “Equalities Workshops” to ensure that older people’s organisations were fully inclusive. An Equalities Checklist was also developed to make sure that smaller organisations were able to review their delivery in this area and undertake a survey on its effectiveness.

A series of initiatives to help older people’s organisations to self-govern more efficiently were also put in place. These ranged from helping to support and develop strong leadership and robust management styles, to providing “Funding Free” workshops to help organisations reduce their costs and apply for funding more effectively. “Data, Research, and Impact Management” courses were also created to allow older people’s organisations to gain confidence in presenting data and making business cases for services they aimed to provide for older Londoners.

Fit 4 Purpose lesson
The project encourage older people’s organisations to develop leadership skills.

The final aim of Fit 4 Purpose was to distribute as much information as possible to older Londoners and related organisations. A Funding Newsletter provided an accessible guide to the latest funding opportunities for older people’s organisations. Meanwhile, an online “Knowledge Hub” provided information, best practice, user consultation and provided equality and benchmarking tools to help older people’s organisations demonstrate their impact. There was also an online “Opinion Exchange” featuring blog posts designed to trigger debates and help organisations to respond to the changing needs of older Londoners. Over 2,500 individuals engaged with the Opinion Exchange and more than 800 organisations received at least one of our briefings each year.

Though we are sad to see Fit 4 Purpose finish, there are plenty of new exciting projects just launching at Age UK London! Be sure to take a look at our new Age Allies programme to combat age discrimination and learn more about “The Way Ahead” which will engage with over 500 older people’s organisations to improve their capacity to support older Londoners.

George Harvey

George is Age UK London's Communications and Campaigns Officer.

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