Bristol has joined the The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
It has become the 705th member of a network of cities and communities in 39 countries, all working towards becoming better places to grow old.
An age friendly city is one that encourages active ageing by promoting health and well being amongst it’s older citizens.
Bristol City Council, Bristol Ageing Better and Age UK Bristol, have been collaborating together over the last 3 years to improve the quality of life for the older residents within the city.
Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees said, “Bristol being accepted to the Age Friendly Cities network is a restatement of our commitment to enable older people to feel safe, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society.”
“I want to see Bristol as a better place for everyone to grow old and become a more closely connected society where people work together and support one another.”
Programme Director at Bristol Ageing Better, Adam Rees said, “This announcement builds on the commitment from Bristol City Council, local voluntary organisations and represents the voices of older people who have influenced Bristol’s Age Friendly strategy from the beginning.
“This is just the start of our journey to making Bristol truly age friendly.”
Programme manager at Bristol Ageing Better (BAB), Carly Urbanski said,”that she is really excited that they have been accepted by the WHO network.”
“We hope to have a celebration event in January that will spark other peoples interest as well.”
According to World Health Organisation guidelines, there are 8 domains to becoming an age friendly city.
Bristol Ageing Better used this criteria to draw up a plan for an age friendly Bristol
They then conducted a survey amongst the older members of the community, in order to find out ways to meet their needs.
They found out that 24% wanted “improved transport” and “improved access to Public facilities”
In recent years, council cuts has meant that many of the public toilets have closed down.
In response to this communities in Bedminster and Greater Brislington produced a toilet map, highlighting places where people can access a toilet free of charge.
Bristol Ageing Better is a partnership of over 150 organisations working towards reducing social isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.
They are funded by the Big Lottery Fund as part of its Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better Program.
This has meant that they have been able to commit over £200,00o to help kick start community activities in Bristol.
Any charity, community group or individual with an idea to help prevent loneliness in people aged 50 or over are able to apply.
One recipient of the fund is Bristol Live West, they have four community development workers who run events and activities to help engage older isolated people.
These have included: a sewing club, Malcolm X Elders, pc skills, lunch clubs and a very popular cinema club.
Earlier this this week they held the St Paul’s and St Agnes festive party.
According to Judith Davis, Livewest’s Community Development Officer for St Paul’s it was “A huge end of year celebration to help bring together the clubs from both communities .”
Another beneficiary from the kickstart fund is The Beehive Centre in Whitehall . The centre runs a full programme of activities including a chair based keep fit class especially designed for older people.
Margaret an 84 year lady who has been attending the group for 8 years said that she “enjoys coming to group” and that it has “helped keep her mobile.”
Another user of the group, Mary Pane said that” It helps with her balance, ” and that she loves the “social aspect of the group.”
The Beehive Community manager Amber Williams said ” I think the idea of having an age friendly city is great and I think we should be encouraging people to think about older people and how we can improve the services that we have got for them and connect people.”
“All of that is great ethos, what I found difficult is that before Bristol Ageing Better came along Bristol was already delivering really great quality services for older people through the Link Age network.”
” They were already at the forefront of all that, with great what on guides and really linking up all the different areas of the city.”
“And really what should have happened in my opinion, was that Link Age should of been supported through Bristol Ageing Better to continue the great work they were doing.”
” Instead what happened was that Bristol Ageing wanted to get rid of all the old services services and start brand new ones.”
Amber is worried that these new groups will “only have a limited amount of time, ” and is not sure about ” what will be left at the end of the Bristol Ageing Better project.”
The Bristol Ageing Better scheme is due to close in 2020, but there is hope that Bristol’s membership to the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities will enable all these community groups and clubs to keep running.