Ageing Better with Big Lottery Fund: the story so far
Sophy Proctor, Head of Funding at the Big Lottery Fund, picks out some of the highlights of the UK-wide Ageing Better programme.
Big Lottery Fund’s Ageing Better programme aims to support people aged over 50 who are experiencing or at risk of social isolation and loneliness, so that they can lead more fulfilling lives, better connected to their communities. Big Lottery Fund also provided the Centre for Ageing Better with a £50 million endowment.
Ageing Better is a £78 million National Lottery funded programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It aims to develop creative ways for people over the age of 50 to be actively involved in their local communities, helping to combat social isolation and loneliness.
We’re working with 14 partnerships over a six year period to realise our ambition – to address social isolation and loneliness, improve social connections and enable people aged over 50 to be more engaged in the design of services for their communities.
As one of the Big Lottery Fund’s five England Strategic Programmes which are looking to test different approaches to tackling serious social issues, our ambition doesn’t stop there. We want to ensure that our learning is shared widely and acted upon, to impact on many more communities and people aged over 50 for years to come.
We’ve just passed the half way point in our programme delivery and have taken some time out to reflect on what’s been achieved and learned. Some highlights for us include:
- As of June 2018, over 60,000 people aged 50+ from diverse backgrounds have engaged with the programme, with many participants reporting that their lives have improved, they feel less isolated and are more socially connected.
Our analysis is telling us that, for the loneliest participants, the decrease in social isolation and loneliness is the most substantial, and participants are more actively involved in their communities after their involvement in Ageing Better.
Its initiatives such as Ageing Well Torbay’s community builder project that has helped us achieve this. 15 Community Builders from the Ageing Well Torbay project have enabled 1,200 local people to become community connectors who help to engage older isolated people. Also, Bristol’s Community Kick Start fund has provided £110,000 funding to help over 70 groups across the city.
- We’ve strengthened capacity of the voluntary sector in funded areas to design, deliver and commission services for people aged over 50.
Many of the smaller organisations we work with have told us that they now have a ‘seat at the table’, and together with people aged over 50, they have been able to influence policy and strategy.
Our Hackney and Camden projects have jointly responded to Transport for London consultations, and our Leeds Time to Shine participants now represent the voice of people aged over 50 on the city council’s commissioning panels.
- As of June 2018, we’ve also created almost 13,000 volunteering opportunities. These volunteers have contributed a total of 14,678 hours, equating to just under 2,000 working days so far!
But, we know that the language sometimes used to publicise volunteering opportunities can be a turn-off – that’s why Talk, Eat and Drink, ran by our East Lindsey partnership, are trialling specific marketing campaigns that avoid the language of volunteering. Ageing Better Middlesbrough has also identified the need for flexible opportunities including ‘micro’ volunteering (small discreet chances to input into a project).
There’s much more information about what we’ve found so far in our recently published Ageing Better briefing.
Have a read, and if you want to know more about the great work of our programme please do get in touch with me, Sophy Proctor, at [email protected].