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Report on Age Platform Europe meeting on Age Friendly Environments

Chris Walsh, PAiL chair, went to a meeting on Best Practice on Age Friendly Cities/environments last week in Brussels. This is an important element in improving the age friendliness of our local boroughs as well as London wide and it is crucial that older people themselves are involved in carrying this out, as well as to get sufficient funding to allow this to happen. Here is his report of the findings which he found quite inspirational and along with the example of Manchester could serve as a basis for future activities here.

First was a report about Mobility Scouts Project – By Netherlands rep Laura Christ.

It was funded by Erasmus Plus and is a best practice development network around the theme of encouraging an Active life for the  80+, with the involvement of   5 countries Austria,  Germany, Italy, Lithuania, and the Netherlands. It is an approach which can be rolled out  across other EU countries , including the UK

Its main focus was valorising potential, knowledge and skills of  the  over 80s . It is also an example of how it is possible to Engage older people in creating age friendly environments.

It is interesting that while many older people see themselves rightly as offering valuable contributions and active engagement with wider society and the economy even they tend to consider those even older than them as less able to do so. This project shows  that whatever age you are you have something to contribute and in doing so extends active and healthier ageing

The first aspect involved training older people in facilitating the project  and also involved the meeting of younger people and local community with those in the nursing home and the surrounding independent living houses. This pilot approach involving all 3 generation still continues after the formal end of the project  as older people became  more active individually and as a group  plus the project set up a youth club which has ongoing  activities run by and for the youth themselves.

In Italy the project was called ‘E noi?’ – what about us – meetings took place where  older people  said and they should be acknowledged  and developed new perspectives  around ageing, tools and older people becoming agents of change

Lithuania’s programme was based on a training programme for professionals, and volunteers to facilitate and support older people, where  older people carry out  the projects following training   based on their ideas and wishes in community

The Austria ‘Samenkracht’ or Joint Strength programme was a dialogue  including  mutual advice and  creative problem solving  as a collaboration between professionals and residents in a community building.

The common denominator was they are all Bottom Up Approach based. The first meetings in the Netherlands were hosted by the organiser  in Laura in her  house  – with adverts put in local paper  – and started with fortnightly meetings of older 80+ local people with coffee and cookies  – That developed into conversations to  translate  into practical action using the  WHO Age Friendly audit topics which then formed the basis for the participants into what is important to be covered  in the local town Age Friendly audits – the leaflet to promote this was entitled Who Owns the City.

Most important benefit for older participants was social contacts / social relationships  – meet others / neighbours  – this is commonly stated in survey as the MOST important indicator for happiness and wellbeing .

The reason the project was titled Mobility Scouts was it represents path-finding and movement.

The Training programme for Mobility Scouts  was to help train members to  assess, develop , plan and monitor implementation – a process of co-design between the project co-ordinators, research professional and the older participant members. The actual audit started with the built environment by  taking photos of your environment  both positive and negative.

As part of the alternative living design the project Architect wanted local terraced housing –  made up largely of social housing – to include one house  with a tenant living  up stairs while the downstairs living space being  open as a community space on the  ground floor , to change the use of what is already there  making communal space  easy to enter and enjoy.

In the ensuing discussion  it was noted that while BIGGER CITIES  are starting the process of becoming age friendly ( even if currently many are  not actively engaging with older people as active participants in the process – which is a  recommendation of the WHO ) while smaller cities and towns are often unaware of concept of Age Friendly environments

As an example of different approaches to environmental auditing one person followed his cat to get to know the neighbours whose land crossed the cat’s path

In terms of actively working with the council they started gaining the support and engagement of one sympathetic councillor  and now at the local level this approach is now supported by  3 political parties.

The Age friendly physical environment / street audit process. – 1 After recruitment of older members interactive training is started, not just on how to carry out the and use the WHO audit tool and process, including the questions to consider and what is to be looked at  – but commencing  with training on raising awareness  and images of ageing . What are your images of ageing – both older and younger – It transpires that many  people (regardless of their age) say older people  are in need of care –anyone who is older than them, so 60- 70s talk about 80s, active 80s talk about support for inactive or those even older. This discussion around general issues of ageing  then  results in further  discussions – eg around an alternative vision on  your environment from perspective of older people. This raising of consciousness and the development of a real life picture of life for older people in your community  and an alternative vision of the future can then play a positive role  in elections.

The Training process  then moves onto a list of problems and opportunities linked to the audit initial findings. The project designed a poster with existing good practice exemplified – the idea being to promote and encourage good practice where you are drawing on small examples from nearby plus good practice from similar endeavours.

There now needs to be a consolidation  of what are the proper training tools  and processes that can be agreed by professionals involved in both training people to use the WHO model and also how best to interest, involve, empower and educate participants- older people themselves throughout the process including public discussions, report writing and presentation and then campaigning  with the media and public and decision makers and lobbying  for the implementation of proposals.

So these elements need to include:

a) Understanding the issues involved – and  linking the wider environment an issues  to one self and one’s own situation.

b) Discussing engagement – how to involve older people – how to ensure that all types of older people are involved, from different localities, wealthy and poor, different types of tenure, women and men, different ethnicities and cultures, identities and beliefs, different generations.

c) If and when need experts in carrying out the audits and making specific recommendations – like urban planning and architects –then you have to hire experts, nut they can be volunteers and they can also be retired or semi-retired experts.

d) Experts also need to be questioned, especially those responsible for the current situation – such as the architects who do not include age friendly designs in their plans (eg accessible toilets, benches and ergonomics) so that training is also aimed at current and future professionals.

The final key point that was raised is the positive benefit on older mental and even physical health of those participating, at what level of engagement, by being actively engaged and empowered by this process. Involvement in Age Friendly environment audits and action plans help to break social isolation and loneliness both for those involved and at the end for the future beneficiaries.

PAiL Response to the London Housing Strategy

On the 18th September 2017, PAiL and Age UK London hosted a joint conference on the issues affecting older Londoners and their concerns and demands relating to housing.

With the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, planning a new London Housing Strategy, this was an opportunity for older Londoners to help shape the future of housing in the capital. The event was held as part of a project funded by Hyde Foundation to explore older people’s views on housing.

The event saw presentations on: Older Home Owners – Adaptations, Repairs, Practical Support and Advice by Jane Minter of Care and Repair England; Older People in Supported/Specialist Housing by Jeremy Porteus of Housing LIN; and the Draft London Housing Strategy.

The debate was introduced by a range of expert speakers from key organisations, before the conference split into feedback groups. You can now download a full summary of our findings from the event here.

PAiL Report on Employment and Economic Development for Older Londoners

PAIL, in association with Age UK London (AUKL),  held an interesting conference on 5th September at the DWP offices in Hammersmith on age and employment and economic development in London, in partnership with DWP who presented updates on their 50+ strategy and the impact of the national roll out of Universal Credit.

There were presentations on The DWP’s Strategy for Older Workers by David Anderson, on Universal Credit by Andrea and Corrine Gregory from DWP, on the Economic and Employment Contribution of Older Londoners by Chris Walsh of PAiL & Wise Age, and on The Benefits of Older Londoners to London’s Economy by Gordon Deuchars from Age UK London. Please find these presentations attached.

The quality of the presentations and of the subsequent discussion were excellent but unfortunately the turn out was lower than we hoped.

In summary, it was made clear just how important the contribution of older people is to the economy and employ situation in London. The impact of both the silver economy and older working age employment is a key factor in the economic development and growth of London

There was also a very good explanation as to how the DWP is progressing with its 50+ strategy and the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) in relation to older people. As 7 current major benefits are being rolled into one with UC this is both an opportunity for people to understand and receive their full entitlement in one package. It should simplify benefits including those of people up to 65. However it was noted that pension payments are not included in this new UC programme and thus will not directly affect those who are solely pensioners, but not receiving other benefits.

A matter of some concern to the 50+ is the fact that this new approach to universal benefits is going to be only online and digital, which as was raised at the meeting, is of considerable concern for those who are ‘digitally excluded’, which can include some of  those with mental or physical disabilities, older pensioners – particularly those aged 80+ – and those with low incomes / low levels of education. This is an issue which the 50+ will need to raise with the DWP to see if there are ways that both older people themselves and also staff can be supported to help those for whom online applications is not currently an option.

This event was finished with a group discussion where point of interest and concern of older people in relation to employment and older people was raised and is now being submitted to the Mayors office for their consideration while drawing up with their strategy for employment and econ dev.

See attached the submission we will be making.

This was the latest in our PAiL series of open events in which older Londoners can have their say om the key issues that affect them and also to provide an opportunity for us to have our say on the different Mayor of London’s strategies.

The next meeting PAiL is organising – this time in partnership with Age UK London and Hyde Housing – is on  Housing and Older People on 18th September, at 336, Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA, from 10.00 (Registration) to 3.30, with a light lunch available. Please click here to book your place.


PAiL Members’ Response to the Mayor’s Strategy on Diversity and Inclusion

Following our successful consultation event at City Hall on Friday 1st September, please click here to read Positive Ageing in London’s response to the Mayor’s vision for diversity and inclusion based on older Londoners’ feedback.

Upcoming Meeting on Housing – 18th September 2017

Positive Ageing in London and Age UK London invite you to an event on 18 September on the issues s affecting older Londoners and their concerns and demands relating to Housing.

At the moment housing is in crisis in London and the UK. Where are the new houses going to come from? What housing is available or being built for older and retired people? Where and when will affordable housing be made available to the hundreds of thousands in need of decent, secure, affordable housing in this city? How will older people living in tower blocks  be given the safe and secure housing they need? These and other questions will be addressed at this conference.

With the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, planning a new London Housing Strategy, come along and tell us what the policies should be for housing in London, in particular as they impact on and affect  older Londoners

The debate will be introduced by a range of expert speakers from key organisations talking about the situation at present affecting owner occupiers, private, social and council housing tenants, as well as those in social care homes – both private and public.

This will be followed by group discussions leading to agreed key principles and demands that older people from all types of housing tenure in London and will be forwarded to the Mayor and GLA

We are holding this event as part of a project funded by Hyde Foundation to explore older people’s views on housing.

The event will be held at 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA,  from 10.00 (Registration) to 3.30, with a light lunch available.

To find out more and to register, please visit the event website.

Hoping to see you and best wishes

Chris Walsh

Chair – Positive Ageing in London

PAiL Update – July 2017

This is to let you know that PAiL now has its own bank account, Age UK London (AUKL) has agreed to continue providing support to us until October 2017  and PAiL has an agreed action plan for the coming months.

We will be using a new email address for PAiL – in fact, if you want to get in touch please reply to – and will be updating our website and twitter page besides setting up a Facebook account.

We have 3 events planned as part of our aim to raise the profile of older Londoners, with our concerns, interests and the benefits which we offer and have our voice heard during the Mayor’s consultations over his strategies for London. You have either already received, or will be getting an invitation to attend each of these separately.

On 5th September at the DWP premises in Hammersmith  in partnership with the DWP and Age UK London we will be hosting a conference on the role and impact of older working age people and the silver economy as part of our input into the Mayor’s Economic Development and Employment strategy plus getting an update on the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit on older people.

On 18th September  in partnership with AUKL we will be hosting a conference in Lambeth on Housing and Older Londoners – again to have our voice heard as apart of the Mayors Housing strategy consultation.

The Mayor’s office have also asked us to help with their Strategic consultation by recruiting people to come along and join in some focus group discussions and we will be inviting older people from all the diverse backgrounds Londoners come from  to come along and be part of these discussions.

Finally we are looking to work in partnership with other older Londoner networks and hope to arrange meetings to see how best we can do this in the near future as well as looking for sources of funding. Anyone with any ideas please get in touch.

PAiL to Exist as an Independent Body

Following our recent meeting it was unanimously agreed by those attending – the founding members – to agree to set up Positive Ageing in London as an independent body and to agree the Articles of Association now amended.

We will be circulating the final Articles of Association in the near future along with the Minutes of the Meeting.

However  I wanted to update everyone who registered an interest or attended one of the last 2 meetings of  the agreed actions that will now take place.

We are in the process of setting up a bank account and have 3 people who will act as signatories but are in urgent need of a treasurer. The work will not be onerous particularly at the beginning as we have little income or expenditure at present but is vital for us to be able to open the account. We would welcome any offers from people prepared to take on this task.

We are also actively looking for sources of funding and would welcome any information or help in contacting bodies who maybe prepared to support us financially or running joint events In terms of events: Firstly we will be jointly organising with Age UK London ( AUKL) a series of meetings around the issues of Housing and Older People. This is a project managed by AUKL and funded by Hyde Housing  and will aim to feed in the expertise and concerns of older ( 50+) Londoners into the  London Mayors Strategy and consultation on Housing.

We aim to have the first meeting at the beginning of July in the Lambeth / Lewisham area and will send you full details when this has been arranged.

The co-ordinator for this project is Gordon Deuchars of AUKL who can be contacted at

We are hoping to have a number of expert speakers addressing these meetings and informing the discussion around different housing issues, including older people in private rented accommodation;  in social housing;those who own their own homes and referencing issues of downsizing, house share, adaptation plus issues of homelessness and of social care housing as well as co-operatives and other housing solutions in London.

If anyone has expertise in these areas and would like to speak or knows someone with such expertise please contact either myself or Gordon.

The second meeting planned is to be held in partnership with the DWP at the beginning of September and will cover issues around 50+ Employment and Self Employment, Ways to Tackle the  3.5 million 50+ currently out of work and wish to work as well as the Impact of the roll out of Universal Credit. While we have expert speakers lined up again anyone with specialist knowledge willing to be  a speaker should contact myself or Gordon The other event currently being planned is to have a Wellness Day – which will address both mental and physical well being-and again we welcome any input from people able to make contributions to this event which it is planned will be more a series of interactive events and group discussions and less  formal presentations.

I do hope that you will continue to support us, to become active members – we are still looking for more people to volunteer to join the committee, and at least come along and be part of our future events.

Best wishes

Chris Walsh

Chair – Positive Ageing in London

Upcoming PAiL Meeting – Friday 26th May

Dear Fellow Positive Ageing in London members,

This is to invite you to the next PAiL meeting which we hope will be both important and interesting.

The feedback from members to our recommendation that PAiL becomes an autonomous organisation registered as an Unincorporated association with its own bank account  was positive so we are now going ahead to launch ourselves as Positive Ageing in London at our next meeting at 2 pm on Friday 26th May at Age UK London, 6th Floor, 1-6 Tavistock Square.

The key decisions to be made are: who is to become Treasurer, Secretary, and Membership Secretary of PAiL respectively; who would like to join the Committee to help myself as Chair and Irene as vice Chair to carry out the important work we are committed to doing. We would welcome anyone to contact us to put their names forward for any of these positions as well as thanking those who have already said they are prepared to help. After that, we will get appropriate signatures needed to start our bank account.

Our next important decision will be to agree our fundraising strategy and action plan and to ask members for help in contacting suitable funding agencies and in preparing funding and partnership bids.

We are also pleased to say that Age UK London has now got the funding from Hyde Housing to hold a series of meetings to engage with older people  over the issue of Housing and Older People and to make a contribution towards the Mayor’s housing strategy – whose consultation process and strategy will be launched later in the year. We are happy to be partners with AUKL in this and help to organise,  promote and recruit participants for these events and even join a steering group.

Part of the meeting will include a discussion on how members wish to continue and solidify our working relationship with age UK London and how best this and other partnerships can work.

In addition we hope to agree at the meeting  the organisation and dates for other events including developing working partnerships with relevant organisations to help us hold successful events around Employment and Benefits for Older people and also on Wellbeing and Older People.

You can view the proposed agenda by clicking here.

All in all this should be an important and interesting afternoon. Please confirm your attendance to Gordon Deuchars,

We look forward to seeing you there

Best wishes

Chris Walsh

Older People’s Brexit Concerns Sent to Government and Parliament

After our joint event on Brexit and Older People on 11 January, the main issues and concerns that participants raised have been sent in a letter to David Davis MP, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, and you can see the text here, and as a submission to Parliament’s committee on Brexit. Issues were raised in areas including health and social care services, equality and human rights, employment and training, access to goods and services, and the rights of older UK and EU citizens living in EU member states and in the UK.