The World Health Organization has recognised Greater Manchester as the UK’s first age-friendly city region.
To mark the achievement, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has launched his age-friendly strategy and joined GreaterSport to celebrate the securing of £1m funding from Sport England to encourage older people to be more physically and socially active.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “To be recognised internationally for the plans we’ve put in place to improve the lives of older people is fantastic, but I want to make sure our policies and strategies translate into real changes for all of us as we age.
“This means providing ways for us all to stay healthy and active as we get older: ensuring our transport is accessible; making sure our plans for building new homes support age-friendly communities and neighbourhoods; and providing high-quality employment opportunities so that we are all able to stay in work for as long as we want or need.
“This summer Greater Manchester is holding a Festival of Ageing and I’ll be launching my Mayoral Challenge, asking people to put forward their ideas for making Greater Manchester a great place to grow old. I want people to think about what needs to happen to make sure we’re living – not just longer – but happier and healthier.”
The funding secured by GreaterSport from Sport England will be used to help people over the age of 55 become more active in their communities, socially and physically – for example by facilitating group walks, social events, confidence building, and training individuals to lead local group activities.
Matt Johnson, Deputy CEO from GreaterSport said: “We are delighted to announce this funding for Greater Manchester. Since launching Greater Manchester Moving in 2017 we have been working to identify opportunities to bring investment into Greater Manchester to enable us to get more people active. Working with the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, the Health and Social Care partnership, Sport England and local partners, this age group has been identified as one of the key priorities.
“This programme is the first time that a physical activity programme has used the principles of involving people in their own communities in creating solutions to get more active and to improve their lives. The programme will involve a broad range of partners across Greater Manchester to test new ways to encourage people who have previously been inactive to become more active and make a difference to their everyday lives.”
Chris Perks, Executive Director Local Delivery, Sport England, said: “Being active is one the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. That is why this investment to support active ageing in Greater Manchester is such an exciting development in the partnership between Sport England and Greater Manchester.
“By investing in a diverse range of projects, tackling issues such as poor mental health, dementia, loneliness caused by bereavement and life changing events – we are keen to learn how new approaches can help increase activity levels and make a lasting difference to the lives and communities of people over 55.
“This is a fantastic example of how a wide range of partners can work together to have the best impact on residents. We are looking forward to seeing the results this funding has on people in Greater Manchester.”
Greater Manchester’s status as the UK’s first age-friendly city-region comes as a result of the work that has been done so far by the Combined Authority’s Ageing Hub, which includes working with local authorities to develop their age-friendly plans; carrying out pilot research on worklessness and job insecurity amongst older people (with Centre for Ageing Better); and launching the ‘Take a Seat’ campaign across Greater Manchester to make it easier for older people to access local amenities.
Jean Stretton, Greater Manchester’s lead for equality, fairness and inclusion, said: “Greater Manchester must continue to push forward and innovate in this arena, recognising that the opportunities and challenges of our ageing population sit across a number of policy areas – from employment and education, to planning and housing.
“We need to make sure that as we age, we are able to live healthily, happily and independently for as long as possible. There is still much to be done, but this strategy is pivotal in thinking through the implications of demographic change and setting out a new positive vision of ageing.”
Future proposals, such as the establishment of a Centre for Age-friendly Culture at the Manchester Museum, have been put forward in Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Age-Friendly Strategy.
The strategy sets out a number of “we will” statements designed to “create an age-friendly Greater Manchester where ageing and life experience are valued, and older people are able to contribute to and benefit from sustained prosperity and enjoy a good quality of life”.
An implementation plan for delivering the strategy will be published in the next few months.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority is working in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better to develop and share innovative approaches to ageing across the city-region.
Natalie Turner, Senior Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “More people living longer represents a tremendous opportunity for society. To make the most of it, we need homes, neighbourhoods, transport and services that help us all age well.
“It’s fantastic to see city regions like Greater Manchester leading the way. Along with the other cities and communities in the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, they are changing the way we live, so that more of us can enjoy and make the most of our longer lives.”
Greater Manchester’s Festival of Ageing has been commissioned by Ambition for Ageing (funded by The Big Lottery Fund), and will take place 2-15 July 2018. The celebratory event will portray a more positive view of ageing, as well as encouraging policy-makers to take the action needed to improve the lives of Greater Manchester’s 907,000 older people – a figure set to rise to 1.1million in the next twenty years.
To view the Combined Authority’