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Age-friendly Communities and COVID-19

We've gathered some examples and resources from Age-friendly Communities in response to COVID-19.

Garden landscape

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, local councils, voluntary sector organisations, residents and other key stakeholders in Age-friendly Communities across the UK are working together to respond to local needs.

Age-friendly Communities across the UK and globally are playing a vital role in supporting, involving and giving voice to older people during COVID-19.

In these communities, residents, local groups, councils and businesses all work together to identify and make changes to ensure their place fosters the abilities of older people. Older residents are particularly involved in shaping the place that they live.

The UK Network of Age-friendly Communities is made up of cities, towns and counties working together to share learning at this time. Affiliated to the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, the UK Network has members across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Below, we've curated content below using the structure of the eight domains of age-friendly:

Communication and information

Brighton & Hove charities pull together to help thousands of older people through the pandemic

Brighton & Hove's Ageing Well partnership, made up of nine local organisations led by charity Impact Initiatives, worked to ensure thousands of older people had access to food each week and set up telephone befriending services to provide regular contact to those who were isolated during the pandemic.

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Greater Manchester: Keeping Well in Winter campaign 

The Greater Manchester Ageing Hub and partners have produced a campaign to support older people who are not online with practical information to keep well this winter. Printed copies of the booklet are being distributed to older residents across Greater Manchester through local councils. The film and talking tips guide have been developed as training resources for frontline staff and volunteers, and for family and friends who have direct contact with older residents.  

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Later Life Audio Radio Cooperative

The Later Life radio network is a set of stations promoting the representation of older adults in audio & radio broadcasting and challenging ageist narratives. They have a range of COVID-19 related recordings listed on a Mixcloud site.

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Community support and health services

Age-friendly Barnsley's walking football

This is the story of how Wombwell Main FC in Barnsley is encouraging people to get active as a way of improving lifestyle.

The football club has set up an over 50s walking football team to encourage those approaching later life to stay active and stay connected to other people in their community.

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Case study: Crowdfund Sunderland 

Jackie Nixon (Community Public Health Practitioner, Sunderland City Council) has written a case study on Crowdfund Sunderland, a community crowdfunding programme enabling local organisations to fund and deliver projects which matter to their local area. The programme was set up by the council and launched in January 2020 with a £150,000 budget made available via backers, the council, CCG Sunderland and Public Health Sunderland. Individuals or organisations can pitch an idea for a project and receive up to £2,000 or £5,000 respectively. This case study highlights how the programme was able to respond to support the community through the COVID-19 pandemic and the success that can be achieved through coordinating locally raised funds.  

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Respect and social inclusion

Open letter to the UK media about the language around and portrayal of older people in COVID-19 coverage

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority have co-created an open letter with Greater Manchester Older People’s Forum and the Centre for Ageing Better directed at the Society of Editors UK and the National Union of Journalists. The letter calls for UK media to be responsible in its language and portrayal of older people in coverage around COVID-19 and serves as reminder that ageism must be challenged at all levels of society.

Read the letter


Briefing: COVID-19 – Reducing social isolation and loneliness

This briefing shares insights and learning from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Ageing Better programme on the impact of and ways of reducing social isolation and loneliness in people aged over 50. It focuses on the specific challenges and solutions relevant during COVID-19.

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Briefing: Experiences of LGBT communities during COVID-19

This briefing, produced by the LGBT Foundation, highlights the experiences of LGBT communities during COVID-19. It includes information for healthcare professionals and links to national support options.

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Social participation

Leeds: How Leeds is utilising virtual coffee mornings during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours' Scheme CIO in Leeds have moved their services online during the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought challenges and opportunities in equal measure.

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Barnsley: How Barnsley is using recycled tech to support its local care homes

An initiative from Barnsley council has seen refurbished laptops and tablets given to care homes in order to give them the support and help they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Wigan: TechMates scheme tackling digital exclusion  

TechMates is a digital mentoring service run by volunteers and council staff. It was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to prevent isolation. The scheme provides one-to-one basic digital support over the phone to residents who are unable to leave their homes, aiming to build digital confidence with technologies such as smartphones, tablets or computers. Since June, 51 volunteer TechMates in Wigan have offered approximately 320 hours of support. 

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Out and About Cards

Out and About Cards were developed on the Isle of Wight as part of the Island’s COVID recovery. The idea came from a member of the Age Friendly Island’s Older Persons Steering Group, a small working group of older people interested in influencing policy and decision-making.

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Reworking the rural community bus during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, rural areas were already facing huge challenges connecting those within the community to each other, but the virus has forced places to radically adapt.

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Find out more

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us all, Ageing Better remains as committed as ever to its mission of improving later lives.
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The Age-friendly Communities framework includes eight domains, or areas, that places can address to improve their structures and services to meet older people's needs and all of us as we age.
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Find out what it means to be an Age-friendly Community and the benefits of joining the UK Network.

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