A new Age Friendly Charter for Leeds

Leeds joined the World Health Organisation’s Network of Age Friendly cities in August 2014 and is working to make sure that it is a great city to grow old in as one of the Council’s breakthrough projects.  A new Age Friendly Charter has been written to replace the Time of Our Lives Charter which was produced in 2012 by the Ageing Well Board, a partnership of organisations with an interest in older people’s issues.  When this charter was due to be reviewed, the Ageing Well Board asked Leeds Older People’s Forum to work with older people to produce a new one.

The World Health Organisation lists eight areas cities important to older people: housing, outdoor spaces, community and health support, communication and information, transportation, respect and social inclusion, social participation, and civic participation and employment.  These themes were used as a guide to what questions to ask people in focus groups and on questionnaires about what Leeds is doing well and what we can do better.

Consultation took place with older people around Leeds via focus groups and written questionnaires.

After a follow-up consultation on the first draft, and input from the Ageing Well Board and Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive lead member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults,  the final draft has been published along with an accompanying report to explain the process. To celebrate, Time to Shine hosted three launch events so people could get their copy and get involved.

This report and the Charter are only one step toward making Leeds an Age Friendly City. The charter says Leeds will actively celebrate and promote positive ageing for all its citizens and has pledges that we know older people want.

We believe that:

Older people should feel valued in their community and live healthy, fulfilling lives with adequate access to, and choice and control over, any support that they may need.

Older people offer a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience to the city, and should never be made to feel invisible or disenfranchised from civic participation.

Older people should be taken seriously in their concerns—whether about safety, health, social inclusion, their environment or political processes.

Older people should be able to live, work and play where and how they want—free from fear—no matter their ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, gender identity or disability.

Older people should have an active role in shaping the policies which affect them.

Older people should have equal access to information that is accurate and easy to understand.

But this is just the start. The next phase will be to take the Charter to businesses, organisations, and individuals who want to make Leeds more age friendly, and support them by making the pledges come true.

Though the consultation involved a large number of older people from diverse backgrounds, many groups may not have been actively included in the process, particularly those who are likely to be most socially isolated.  The next step will be to continue reaching out to as many people as possible and include them in the process of making the Charter pledges a reality.

Time to Shine, the Ageing Well Board, and other members of the Age Friendly Leeds Partnership will now work with people and organisations around the city, encouraging them to sign up to the Charter and work toward the Charter pledges.

But it doesn’t stop there  you can also get involved in making Leeds an Age Friendly City: make a pledge, either on behalf of the organisation you belong to, or at home or as a volunteer or at work.

Here are just a few examples of personal pledges that have already happened:

  • A bus shelter and raised kerb has been installed in Swillington.
  • Elderberries, a twice weekly drop in for elderly and socially isolated people,  offering free activities such as keep fit and singing sessions, talks,  presentations and trips has been set up.
  • Horsforth Live at Home invited local primary school children to join them as part of their International Day of Older People celebrations. Local high schools are setting up a website for us for them.
  • Free bingo sessions are being held for Leeds City Council Sheltered Housing residents
  • Leeds City Council Libraries have set up History pin Connections – a project that invites individuals and groups to collect stories and share their heritage.
  • Four big lunches took pace in four different sheltered housing schemes for approximately 150 older people from different backgrounds. Entertainment was provided including a children’s choir, a ukulele band and singers, including an international singer who entertains around the world.
  • One person has made contact with several people in their street, specifically their nearest neighbours, which includes older people, by sending cards at Christmas and introducing them self and stopping to give lifts to older residents. Neighbours now take in parcels for each other, put bins outs and chat regularly.

Let us know what pledges you intend to make either as a comment at the bottom of the blog or by emailing agefriendly@leeds.gov.uk

If you would like a printed copy of the Charter/Report, or if you would like to find out more about being age friendly, please get in touch with Emily: emily@opforum.org.uk or 0113 244 1697.