We believe that the cumulative effect of the 2016-17 Budget proposals will significantly erode the joint efforts of Newcastle City Council and its partners to create the conditions in which the commitment to become an age-friendly city can be achieved.
The percentage of people aged 65+ in Newcastle is 14.2%. According to Know Newcastle, the most notable change in the population pattern is the increase in people in later life. The long term projections indicate a significant increase in the later life group by almost 50% (20,000) people from 40,700 in 2013 to 60,600 in 2037. A third of these people – 6,200 – are aged over 85+. Evidence also shows that whilst the health of residents is improving, it is worse than the national average. Healthy Life Expectancy for males in Newcastle is 57.8 for men and 59.9 for women, with very significant differences between the most and least deprived wards in the city.
In the light of this data, the 2016-17 Budget proposals will, taken as a whole, have a major impact on the ability of older people to live independently, maintain health and wellbeing and participate fully in our communities. Taken alongside other changes such as welfare reform and the Housing Bill, we also believe it will exacerbate inequalities in quality of life and healthy life expectancy in the city.
A wealth of evidence demonstrates that prevention and early intervention result in better outcomes for people and savings on more costly services. This budget, however, includes proposals to withdraw preventive services (e.g. information services; handy-person schemes; lunch clubs; Safe Newcastle; library opening hours) and to tighten up on other services (e.g. social care; environmental protection) in such a way that those services will be increasingly focused on people with high-level needs or in crisis, rather than prevention.
Over the years there have been successive reports on the need for greater integration between health, social care and housing. Yet our capacity to bring about change is reducing all the time. We hope that the current programme of design labs on health and social care integration in Newcastle will enable partners in the city to make significant strides with this work.
A statement published by the International Longevity Centre – UK in December 2015 entitled ‘The end of formal adult social care’ concludes that the current situation is ‘likely to result in a polarisation of care – private formal care for those that can afford it, rising reliance on informal carers and increasing unmet needs for those that can’t. However, with local government facing more real term spending cuts, we are unlikely to have the required infrastructure to move to a model of care that relies so heavily on family and community support.’ In our view, this statement describes the Newcastle position as set out in this Budget. More needs to be achieved through the Council’s leadership and facilitation role to draw in partners and expertise in the city to develop new ways of working and different solutions. We hope that the development of the National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation at Newcastle University will provide a platform and a catalyst for bringing partners together to address some of the pressing challenges in the city.
We have the following specific comments on some of the budget proposals:
Evidence shows that as we age we tend to spend more time in our homes and neighbourhoods. It therefore becomes increasingly important that we live in neighbourhoods where we feel safe and where we have easy access to key local amenities such as transport, shops, community facilities and activities.
We support the Council’s intention to retain the current library network, but we question the viability of this proposal given the significant reductions in opening hours which are being proposed. Does Newcastle City Council have data on how this will affect the numbers of people who, given the policy to provide services on-line, use the computers in the libraries for essential business? We advise people who do not have a computer at home to go to their local library to get assistance with reading or printing documents. We know that there have been some successes where local communities have become involved in running their libraries. Is there an opportunity to learn from these and to identify ways in which partnerships with local groups may enable longer opening hours?
We are very concerned about the reductions in funding in relation to Public Safety and Regulation. In the light of the community safety issues arising in the city, a Safe Neighbourhoods Programme which can help to quickly address or prevent crime and anti-social behaviour by working closely with local communities can be critical for older people, who otherwise lose confidence about going out and about safely. We question the proposals to fund this and the neighbourhood wardens from the Housing Revenue Account given the services are of wider community benefit.
We know that the Quality of Life Partnership has been working with environmental protection services and other partners to develop ways of supporting people who are hoarders, before their properties reach the stage of being a public health risk and/or pre-empting a vicious circle of blitz cleans. Whilst we appreciate that it may not be the responsibility of environmental protection services to deliver a more preventive approach, the service’s expertise is needed in working with other partners to intervene early and deliver a more therapeutic response.
The significant reduction in the Co-operative Communities service leads us to question whether the service that is left will have sufficient capacity to meet the Council’s aspiration to ‘deliver new ways of working to effectively engage with communities and other stakeholders resulting in enabling communities to do more for themselves.’ We are aware that there are examples in the city where local communities have taken over community assets with great success. Are there mechanisms through which Newcastle City Council could facilitate the exchange of ideas and learning between communities about how they are doing more for themselves?
The withdrawal of the handy-person, trades register and navigator services goes against the ambition to enable people to live safe and well at home and to encourage people to make timely decisions about where they want to live in later life. We know that access to a trusted and vetted handy person is very important to older homeowners. We appreciate the challenges in providing these services at a price which is affordable/acceptable to people, and we wonder whether more creative options could be explored e.g. a handyperson service linked to an apprenticeship scheme? Developing a closer working relationship between the Council and schemes such as ‘Checked and Vetted’?
For many years we have actively promoted telecare, encouraging people to see it as an investment/insurance. We anticipate that many people who currently receive this service free will not be willing to pay for it and may place themselves at risk and/or create higher and unnecessary demand on health services. We strongly support discussions with the Clinical Commissioning Group to see whether a joint funding arrangement can be put in place and that different approaches to providing telecare at low cost are explored.
We work closely with Energy Services to promote schemes which enable people to stay warm at home. We fully support negotiations with energy suppliers and other stakeholders to continue the funding of the Health through Warmth service.
Care and Support
We anticipate that the range and depth of the cuts to services which provide care and support to older people will result in people not receiving support in a timely manner and will build up demand for higher cost services.
We know from the recent consultation work on home care services that many older people still have an expectation that care services will be there for them when they need them. People need much clearer information about how to access care and a prompt assessment so that they know what to expect and what they need to do for themselves. We hear very positive comments about the rehabilitation service which people receive on discharge from hospital and the value of a multidisciplinary team in putting in place equipment and support in a timely manner, giving people practical support and the confidence to manage change.
The proposals relating to cuts in Adult Social Work and in Care and Support within the Home, which will result in delayed assessments, tighter care packages and a withdrawal of funding for health-related services, will all have a significant effect on older people at a time when they most need support. It will particularly affect those people who cannot call on family, friends or neighbours to provide additional help and will undoubtedly result in higher demands on health services. The recent report from Unison highlights yet again that the very limited time allowed for social care visits is not meeting the needs of older people or enabling care workers to provide a quality service.
It is our view that provision in the private sector cannot replace the quality of rehabilitation service provided in Byker Lodge for people living with dementia. We are very concerned about the potential loss of this highly valued service at a time when we should be improving services for people with dementia.
Chain Reaction is a new service and it will take time for the service to realise its potential and build the capacity to deliver peer-led activities/lunch groups. There is a need to continue to develop innovative, grassroots responses and to learn from other places where these have been successful (e.g. areas which were successful in securing Big Lottery Fulfilling Lives, Ageing Better funding). We also know that peer-led activities need on-going infrastructure support if they are to deliver good quality and sustainable activities, particularly for frailer older people. Further consideration needs to be given to the withdrawal of funding for the current lunch club provision in the city, before alternative models have been established. We know that for the people who attend the lunch clubs, they provide an important (if not the only) opportunity for maintaining social connections and participating in community life. There is plenty of evidence to show how important this is to maintaining people’s independence, wellbeing and their ability to manage long-term conditions.
In the Elders Council we are committed to taking every opportunity to making sure that older people are well informed and we are encouraging people to plan ahead for their later life. However, we know that face-to-face advice is essential in helping us to make important decisions, especially at times of crisis. The proposals to reduce the level of funding for advice services will hit the most vulnerable people in our city, and we are very concerned about the impact this will have.
We are concerned about City Council employees who will lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. We are particularly concerned about those aged 50+ who are likely to experience challenges in finding alternative employment. We trust Newcastle City Council has processes in place to support all employees in this position.
Ambition in the face of austerity
We welcome Newcastle City Council’s commitment to be ambitious in the face of austerity. As older people in the city, we have made a commitment to play our part in this as demonstrated by the Manifesto we launched at our AGM in July 2015. We would welcome opportunities to work alongside colleagues from Newcastle City Council and other organisations in the city, to find new solutions to the challenges we face. We also recognise that many of the factors which are causing the current position are outside the control of Newcastle City Council. We will continue to lobby our national politicians on these issues.
31 January 2016
Older Voices is the radio programme of the Elders Council. We broadcast on the first and third Fridays of the month between 2.00 - 4.00 pm on Nova Radio (102.5 FM). In addition to our regular features such as gardening with Susan, green issues with Sandy and 'Thought for the Week' with Eunice, we have invited guests relevant to the topic of the programme.
You can find us on radio.garden through which you will also find radio stations from all over the world.
If you miss a programme, you can listen again by tuning in to the Later Life Audio and Radio Co-operative
LLARC is all about radio content created by older people so you may find other interesting programmes you would like to listen to.
Elders Council is delighted to receive a grant from the Postcode Community Trust to enable us to help older people to get on-line. We have been concerned about how much older people who are not on-line have missed out on opportunities to stay in touch with others and enjoy new experiences. We will providing people with equipment and a limited amount of wifi to enable them to get online. We are also seeking people who are confident with using IT to offer a few hours of their time as 'Tech Buddies', supporting others to get on-line. Contact [email protected] if you are interested.
'Managing the Home Care Circus' is the report on the Elders Council's investigation of older people's experiences of home care in Newcastle. The investigation was done by older people for older people and presents key messages about how best we can prepare, seek and manage home care support. We welcome your feedback on the report.
In October, Elders Council joined forces with students from Newcastle University's Architecture, Planning and Landscape Department to undertake a review of the city centre to identify what would make it friendly and welcoming to people of all ages. We came together in a series of zoom focus groups where we shared our experiences and ideas. The students undertook a lot of research to find examples of 'what works' from other age-friendly cities. Our research and the findings are available in our report. We are planning to bring the Elders Council group together again to consider the findings and what we should do next to take them forward.
For #AgeProudNewcastle this October we’re celebrating ageing well and keeping connected.
It’s an opportunity to stop and recognise people’s contributions and what we across our communities can do to support each other and drive change.
Organisations in Newcastle have worked together to produce an #AgeProudNewcastle brochure which we are delivering to older people in the city to give them information and ideas about how to join in the celebration. Look for a copy in our Reports section.
To celebrate we want your nominations for Newcastle’s Age Proud Champions. Enter here: https://equalarts.org.uk/age-proud-champions
We’d love to hear about the people making a difference in your communities and share their stories.
Doorbells Covid-19: free film screenings, with Q&A and small discussion groups.
Meet Kathleen, whose life has changed during lockdown - perhaps for the better.
Doorbells Covid-19 is a humorous, poignant and reflective film short that asks questions about where and how we live as we grow older.
Whether living alone, ageing without children or caring for others, what are our options?
How do Kathleen’s choices resonate with our own decisions about how we live? What choices do we really have about where we live now and in the future?
Doorbells Covid-19 has been commissioned by Care & Repair England and Elders Council of Newcastle and is supported by Rayne Foundation. It has been created Skimstone Arts.
Join us for a free online screening of Doorbells Covid19:
Wednesday 29 July, 2.30pm – 4pm. Book a free ticket here [LINK TO BE INSERTED].
Wednesday 5 August, 2.30pm – 4pm. Book a free ticket here [LINK TO BE INSERTED].
Small discussion groups with the Doorbells Covid19 team
Each film screening will be followed by an informal Q+A and small discussion groups about housing and ageing.
If you’d like to, join in with the discussion and share your thoughts and questions about where and how we live as we grow older.
The discussion is part of Northumbria University’s evaluation of the Doorbells project (read more about this below) and some of the anonymised discussion notes may be used in project reports and journal articles. Joining the discussion is voluntary and by doing so, we assume that you give your consent for anonymised documented notes to be used in this way.
Your input will help the Doorbells team to research ways of improving housing services for older people, people ageing without children, and carers.
If you have any questions about the project or its evaluation, please email Dr Natalie Forster, Northumbria University, on [email protected]
The Doorbells project
This film is part of a three-year project which aims to improve the lives of older people living alone, people ageing without children, and carers, by addressing housing difficulties which people can face later in life.
The Doorbells project is pioneering the use of the arts to support people to make well informed housing decisions and produce evidence on how to improve older people's housing services and alternative housing options.
Doorbells began in 2014 with a theatre production, created with older participants’ input, about growing older in homes and neighbourhoods. Two further theatre productions and a film were also produced. Watch the previous Doorbells film short here.
Doorbells is a partnership project between Care and Repair England, Elders Council of Newcastle, Skimstone Arts and Northumbria University, supported by Rayne Foundation.
This section contains ideas for activities that people can do whilst confined to their homes during COVID 19. Please help us by sharing these ideas with people you know.
Organisations across the city are offering a wide range of different activities during the month of October. Keep checking Information NOW and the Elders Council website and facebook page for updates on the activities on offer. Here is just a flavour:
1st October you can spend the morning at Newcastle Eagles taking part in the Golden Games and in the afternoon you can enjoy a visit to Dippy the Dinosaur at Great North Museum and hear from the curator.
On 5th October, you can be inspired at Dance City at Inspire Platform where different groups of older dancers will perform.
On 9th October you have a date with the Elders Council and WEA's Active Voices group who will be parading their banners and songs from Grainger Market to Space 2. John Grundy will be joining us to celebrate.
Or you can enjoy a performance of Chamber Music at Sage Gateshead on 16th October when the Royal Northern Sinfonia are putting on a dementia-friendly performance of Elgar and Mozart.
And there is plenty more to come ....
To keep up to date, look up www.informationnow.org.uk/article/ageing-with-style and look at the Elders Council's Facebook page.
The IT Classes Project run by Northumbria Students Union volunteers in conjunction with the Elders Council is now into its seventh year. Student volunteers assist older people who may not feel confident using devices, such as computers, iPads and mobile phones to improve their skills. Sessions run fortnightly during term-time and rely on a team of dedicated student volunteers to deliver this personalised service.
• 2013/14: Northumbria Student Union ‘Best New Project Award’ and runner up to ‘Best Overall Project’.
• April 2014: Go On UK Digital Skills ‘I made a difference’ award in the ‘Innovative Partnership’ category. (These awards are the region’s principal way of recognising people/organisations that have gone that extra mile to get the North East digitally connected). Click here to see video.
• 2014: Northumbria Student Union ‘Project of the Year’ award.
• December 2014: Truth about Youth, PoSBO Intergenerational Award
• June 2015: Digital Leaders Top 100 List – reaching an impressive 41st place for ‘Best Digital Inclusion Project or Service’. These awards honour the top 100 achievements from across the UK and celebrate individuals/ organisations who are making a real difference. Hundreds of nominations were received, so to come in the top 50 was an enormous achievement. Competition included Councils, government departments, and corporate organisations such as BT, Lloyds and Talk Talk.
• December 2015: Runner up for Truth about Youth, PoSBO Intergenerational Award.
The students are aware that some older people don’t want to learn in a lecture-based class, and that’s why they do it in one-to-one sessions, allowing the older person to go at their own pace whilst not feeling rushed or stressed.
The learning has boosted confidence and sociability for everyone involved and has created new relationships between generations. It is a two-way learning process – the older people are learning new skills from the students, whilst the students are gaining experience, not only in teaching, but in relation to interpersonal skills. This project has definitely broken down barriers between the generations. The project is an innovative intergenerational teaching and learning model that could easily be implemented in other places to combat the digital divide.
Elders Council members have found the classes invaluable. Classes are very informal with no set structure and tuition is tailor made to suit the learner!
Carole Suchak who was a regular attender said:
“It is not every day where the young are able to demonstrate that they have so much more skill, experience and expertise than those of a ‘certain’ age. However, this scenario exists at Northumbria University IT Suite between the hours of one and three on Wednesday afternoons.
“Many students give up their valuable time to help older people acquire IT skills. The tuition is on a one-to-one basis. I have been going for four weeks and my self-esteem has been greatly advanced because I am much more computer literate than I was. I now have a Skype account; am familiar with ‘clip art’; have a greater understanding of Word and I have a Facebook account.
“The tuition is tailor-made to suit the learner (thank goodness we do not have to pay for it!). Commitment to the class does not have to be each and every week; anyone may dip in and out as they wish. The students have demonstrated infinite patience with me and with others. They are kind and it is a real pleasure to learn from their expertise.
“I can only encourage you to come along and give these classes a try. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.”
For furher information about sessions please call the Elders Council office on 0191 208 2701.
The Elders Council has always advocated that housing, health and social care services should work more closely together. So in Autumn 2017 we brought our own activities together and formed a new group which meets quarterly.Here is a flavour of the wide range of activities we are currently involved in:
Lived experiences of home adaptations: We participated in research about people’s experiences of home adaptations led by Northumbria University for the Centre for Ageing Better. The report -Homes that Help: a personal and professional perspective on home adaptations - is now available on the Centre for Ageing Better website https://www.ageing-better.org.uk/publications/homes-that-help. We hope that the recommendations will lead to improvements to the ways in which people access home adaptations.
Doorbells - Dreaming for the Future: Elders Council has been working with Care and Repair England, Northumbria University and Skimstone Arts to try out a different way of having conversations with people about how and where they want to live in later life. In March 2018 we held a performance of 'Doorbells - Dreaming for the Future' a sensitive, humorous and moving piece which explores these issues. The performance was followed by a post-show discussion which generated lively debate. A film of the performance is now available here. A report on this work is available in the Reports Section of this website together with a resource pack. We are planning to hold screenings of the film as well as live performances in different parts of the city in 2019.
Future Homes: Elders Council continues to be involved in the Future Homes project and has committed to being one of the partners in a newly formed Community Interest Company, which will take forward the learning from Future Homes. Click here for further information.
Urgent Care: Elders Council took the opportunity to hold a focus group on the use of current urgent care services. The government is planning changes to urgent and emergency care services. The demand for these services is growing and it can be confusing for the public to know which service is the most appropriate one to access. We don’t yet know what changes there will be but we will let you know when we get feedback from our report. You can see a copy of our report here.
Home Care: Following on from the consultation we undertook in 2015/16, we continue to receive feedback on members’ experiences of home care services. We also conducted an informal investigation into different models of home care to see what we can learn from elsewhere. A report of our findings 'Getting by with a little help' is available in the Reports Section of this website
Look out in the newsletter and e bulletin for opportunities to join in this work, either through participating in one-off events or by joining the quarterly meeting.
There are more than 100 different “Newcastles” or “New Castles” around the globe, in many different countries and in many different languages. The idea of bringing together places around the world that share the name “Newcastle” came in 1996 from the then Newcastle-based arts manager John Nicolaou. He created the “Newcastles of the World United” project, with the aim of fostering links of friendship, culture, education and tourism, hopefully leading to economic links and benefits. Check out their website: www.newcastlesoftheworld.com .
“Newcastles of the World” held their 2016 conference in Newcastle, Ontario, Canada from 19-23 September 2016. The themes of the conference were:
• How can we ensure that our towns and cities are age-friendly, capitalising on the contribution of older people to our communities?
• How can we share experience and work together to promote our Newcastles to tourists and investors?
• To ensure the continued vitality of our town centres.
• To promote cohesion and strengthen civic identity, harnessing volunteering, philanthropy and citizen engagement.
The Elders Council wanted to ensure that at least one older person from Newcastle upon Tyne had the opportunity to attend this exciting event and set up a crowdfunding page to sponsor someone to take part. Members were given the opportunity to apply to take part in the conference, and 3 applications were received.
The applications were checked by a small panel of Elders Council Board members and Councillor David Faulkner, just to ensure that they met the essential criteria. All valid applications were put into a hat, and drawn out in sequence. The winning name drawn out first was Julie Irvine.
In the build up to the conference, as well as receiving lots of donations through the crowdfunding page, we also managed to secure another source of funding, which enabled another member to attend. As Dorothy Ternent's name was drawn out in second place, she was offered the opportunity to attend too.
(Mary Nicholls, former Elders Council Chair, took up the opportunity to book a place at the conference too, but she self-funded her own place.)
Click here to read the full report.
As a thank you to those people who donated £10 for getting our Elders Council members 20 miles closer to Canada we promised to include their names as a funder on this website. They include:
The Newcastle delegation travel everywhere in a yellow school bus which they find is great fun!
Monday, 19 September: here's a photo of the EC delegates meeting some mounties in Newcastle Ontario!
On this day the group heard from other Newcastles of the World and some of the issues the towns and cities face. In the afternoon, they were welcomed by the Mayor of Clarington (the district of Newcastle, Ontario) and shown around the town. They heard about their 'Older Adult Strategy' which has a particular focus on recreation provision! They hope to share our own EC vision on Tuesday and discuss ageing in more depth with other Newcastles around the world.
Tuesday, 20 September: They spent the whole morning discussing a range of issues about ageing across many of the Newcastles of the World. They started off learning about the importance of music on our lives and particularly how it enables social connections and improved well being with people with dementia and other illnesses associated with age. The speaker was from Ontario and she suggested there is increasing research evidence that music can ameliorate loss and promote quality of life through many ways - social cohesion, participation, purpose and positive self esteem. People who may be unable to express themselves in conventional ways such as discussion and mobility can find they can do so through singing or responding to the beats in music. It was argued that music can help with speech improvement when someone cannot speak following a stroke, or walking better when experiencing parkinson's or calmness if agitated when experiencing dementia. The overall argument was that music can enable improved care and social integration.
This presentation was followed by another from Neuchatel (Newcastle) in Switzerland who are promoting an older people's strategy that takes into account an ageing population while recognising that older people are not all the same but have different needs. They want to actively promote social cohesion. Their strategy is quite developed and has a particular focus on mobility and urban design. This might involve meeting with planners and engineers and include improving the city centre to make walking around easier. Another idea was the use of cargo bikes to carry older people's shopping home (more environmentally friendly and cheaper than a taxi)!
Our own Mary Nicholls made a short presentation about the Elders Council and she emphasised the need for cities to be age friendly and to do 'nothing about us without us'. The involvement of older people in developing strategies and civic engagement was a very strong plea.
There was a wide ranging discussion about housing, getting appropriate advice and information and age friendly employment practices.
There were a number of ideas that Dorothy, Julie and Mary feel the Elders Council could discuss further.
Wednesday, 21 September: Feedback about one or two ideas from today's session at the conference. There is a proposal to have a Newcastles Passport which is about promoting a particular form of 'added value' if someone from a Newcastle is visiting another Newcastle anywhere in the world. Newcastle upon Tyne is looking at offering discounts and 'offers' such as meeting with the Mayor or special guided tours. They are thinking whether the EC could develop some sort of 'offer' as one of many on Newcastle upon Tyne's website, espcially given that so many tourists are older people.
Thursday, 22 September: Visit to Niagara falls - so it's uncertain if there will be many bright new ideas but you never know!
In the group we look at a wide range of transport issues as they affect older people. We continually look at issues such as the cost of concessionary travel, the quality of bus services and travel safety.
We work closely with Nexus, the City Council, the Universities and with the local bus operators such as Stagecoach.
In addition, we are consulted on transport initiatives, both National and Regional. We also nominate representatives to the Tyne and Wear Older Peoples' Transport Forum.
We are responsible for the publication of EC Rider - our popular booklet on outings with your concessionary bus pass.
We meet bi-monthly and any member of the Elders Council is welcome to join the Group.
To find out more email [email protected] or call 0191 208 2701.
This group meets about six times per year and has a programme of work on assessing older person friendly environments.
Using a checklist based on members views on what is important to older people, members of the working group have carried out systematic assessments of Newcastle City Centre, Parks and Recreation Areas and Supermarkets. In 2013 the group carried out assessments of the District Centres in Newcastle. Copies of the reports are available in the Publications section as well as listed below.
In 2020, the Group contributed to the review of the Newcastle Street Charter.
If you would like to join the working group, contact [email protected] or call 0191 208 2701.
The Communication Group is made up of:
• an editorial group, which is responsible for publishing a quarterly magazine;
• the ebulletin editors;
• the radio group;
• the Facebook managers; and
The Magazine - The Echo - comes out quarterly and is packed full of information about the work of the organisation; information and advice about services for older people; opportunities to get involved in research; events and activities; and letters and poems from members. The newsletter is available on paper (including a large-print version), via email, on CD and on our website.
The ebulletin (The Echo) comes out every two weeks in order to update members on what’s happening in the period between newsletters. To add your name to the subscription list, email [email protected]
Older Voices is the Elders Council monthly radio programme, which is broadcast from 2 to 4pm on the first Friday of the month on Nova Radio (102.5fm). This lively broadcast has a different theme each month on topics such as 'Keeping Active', 'Housing', 'Life after Retirement' as well as music and notices of forthcoming events. If you can’t manage to find 102.5fm on your radio, you can listen to the programme live at www.novaradio.co.uk.
Facebook: Our Facebook page gives you information about current events and issues of interest. Just click here.
Twitter is our way of staying in touch with current debates on ageing and letting people know our views on issues.
We are always looking for new people to join us and welcome articles for The Echo and ideas for the radio programme. Get in touch!
We (the Elders Council, with Quality of Life Partnership and Northumbria and Newcastle Universities) had a series of public conversations with people aged 50 years and over who live in Fenham/Wingrove area of Newcastle.
We really wanted to know what people think is good about their neighbourhood, and how it could be improved to better meet their needs in the future.
We held three public conversations with around 25 people during May. At the first two events, we asked people to share their experiences, opinions and ideas about their home and their neighbourhood. At the last event, we worked with Skimstone Arts, a local arts organisation, to produce a play to illustrate some of the ideas that have come out of the conversations. This play, and the other feedback we got during the public conversations, will be shared with around 80 people working in professional and voluntary organisations at future events, to make sure what we've found out together is heard by the right people.
We hope our future conversations will help us to get a better understanding of the range of activity and support available in Fenham/Wingrove, and also help us to raise important issues about what needs to happen in the future with people working in housing, care and health in later life.
MyPlace is a partnership project with the Digital Interaction Research Group at Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Newcastle City Council and the Age Friendly City Initiative; it is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) .
Rachel Clarke, MyPlace researcher at Newcastle University, said, ‘We’re exploring the City Walks as an approach to using technology to document and share experiences of the city as part of the MyPlace project. We’re really excited to be experimenting with this approach in partnership with members of the Elders Council. When we did the walk at the beginning of February, in response to the changes that are planned for John Dobson Street, everybody involved was really engaged and animated about local planning issues and came up with ideas for how things might change in the future. We’ve since shared some of the concerns and ideas with the Council as part of the consultation in the City Library. We’re hoping to follow this up in the next month to develop the approach further so that others can self-organise around their own walks and events.’
Read a members’ report on the session held with the MyPlace team by clicking here.
Bridging the Gaps was an initiative to promote social inclusion and reduce loneliness for older people.
We looked at current research about the types of activities which help people to stay involved, including hosting a workshop with the National Development Team for Inclusion on 'Not a one way street - Research into older people's experiences of support based on mutuality and reciprocity.'
We worked with older people in Jesmond and Throckley to develop stronger networks between local older people's groups and to stimulate new activity.
We started a monthly coffee morning on Wednesdays at the Milecastle in the centre of Newcastle. It's open to anyone to come along for a chat and stimulating conversation.
In Autumn 2013 we launched a small grants programme with Age UK Newcastle. It was called 'Staying Connected' and offered individuals and organisations the opportunity to test out new ideas which will appeal to people who might otherwise find it hard to keep up their social networks. We shared the learning from the projects at an event on 1 April 2014.
To read the Staying Connected: An Evaluation Report, click here.
Members who attended the Elders Council Annual General Meeting on 3 July 2014 had the opportunity to view a short film 'Energy and Commitment' showing the Elders Council at work. If you weren’t able to get to the AGM the video has now been uploaded and can be viewed by clicking here. As we said on the video, it is always difficult to describe succinctly what we do. If you are intrigued by any of the examples of work shown on the video and would like to get more involved, get in touch with us for more information.
A Manifesto for growing old well in Newcastle upon Tyne
The fact that we are all living longer, mostly healthier, lives is having a significant impact on our city. As older citizens we have a role to play in making sure that Newcastle upon Tyne is a place where people can grow up, live their lives and grow old with good health and positive wellbeing throughout. Older people are a great asset to their communities and to the city itself. We act as carers for family and friends; we are the largest volunteering group; many pay taxes; and all contribute to the economy of the city in a variety of ways.
Since the Elders Council was first launched more than a decade ago we older people have worked to improve the lives of all older people in the city; we are committed to continue with this work and this statement sets out what we think the older people of the city can do. We are the “voice” of older people in the city:
• We will be active contributors in making Newcastle an age friendly city: by using our experience and skills: by developing our capacity to understand issues and create solutions: by engaging in research to help our understanding of people’s experiences and needs. We will use the evidence we gather to work with partners in designing a city with amenities and services appropriate to an ageing population.
• We will promote positive images of older people and challenge negative stereotypes. We will expect to be treated with dignity and respect
• We will continue to encourage people to plan ahead, and think about the changes they could make to give them the best chance of being able to live well, safely and independently at home.
• We will continue to encourage older people to adopt a positive attitude to ageing, promoting key messages about how we can maintain our own health and wellbeing, whilst being willing to accept help when it is needed.
• We will foster and support schemes which provide opportunities for older people to develop and maintain social connections and offer mutual support.
• We will help to ensure that older people are well informed about how to access health and care services and use them appropriately. We will actively contribute to the design of services to better meet the needs of an ageing population.
• We will lobby to keep our free bus pass, which is essential to our independence as well as bringing economic value to communities. We will continue to work for an integrated, good public transport system
• We will strive to develop opportunities for people to learn and maintain their digital skills, so that they continue to stay connected, informed and are able to access work opportunities and services more easily.
• We will continue to inspire and enable older people to be active in their local communities and the life of the city. We will continue to work towards 20 minute neighbourhoods.
• We will promote the wide range of cultural, leisure and learning opportunities available and encourage older people to participate.
Tyneside Cinema secures funding to continue dementia-friendly cinema
The Dementia-Friendly Cinema project was initiated and provided with seed funding by the Elders Council. So we are very glad to learn that funding has now been secured to enable the programme to continue. Thanks to the grant from The Ballinger Charitable Trust, dementia-friendly cinema will return in May 2016 as a permanent part of Tyneside Cinema’s programme for the next three years. The grant will enable the cinema to make permanent as well as temporary physical changes to the building, making adjustments so that the space is as welcoming as possible for audiences. The cinema will also be able to continue to invest in staff development and training.
The dementia-friendly events were designed to suit the needs of people living with dementia by:
• having special large-print and contrast-adjusted signage around the building and in the auditorium
• increasing lighting in the auditorium during the film
• reducing sound levels
• screening no adverts or trailers before the film
For details of the programmes, please ring 0191 227 5500 or click here.
Elders Council is proud to be a partner in Future Homes - a cross sector partnership of Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council, industry partners, voluntary and community organisations engaged in a co-design process to develop housing which is fit for the future. The aim of Future Homes is to develop attractive and affordable homes which respond to the challenges of demographic and climate change and urban sustainability. We have development finance through our partner, Karbon Homes, to develop new models of housing on Helix (subject to planning permission) which will combine modular building ideas, low energy systems, digital technology and flexible design to provide homes suitable for people at any stage in their lives.
In Autumn 2017 Elders Council hosted a series of workshops with older people to contribute to the co-design process. The workshops were interesting and challenging in equal measure.
Future Homes has established a Community Interest Company to take forward the learning from the project. Elders Council is a partner in the Future Homes Alliance www.futurehomesalliance.com.