My vision of a Decade of Healthy Ageing: Corinne, Liverpool
Since Liverpool joined the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, Steve Rotherham, the Metro Mayor, has been busy engaging with the city region's older residents.
Resident and volunteer, Corinne Jones, looks at how her home city of Liverpool is committed to becoming more age-friendly and what it would mean if the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing was a success.
I am 66 and have lived in Liverpool for over 45 years now. I am a very active member of a variety of voluntary groups in the region. I volunteer for the PSS WellBeing group, which provides recovery-focused mental health support to people living in Liverpool. I’m a member of an over 60s group with The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), an art and film exhibition space that embraces new technology and explores digital culture. I am also part of the Happy Older People (HOP) network, which promotes age-friendly arts participation and Liverpool Cares, a charity that helps tackle loneliness and isolation by bringing older and younger neighbours together.
I decided to get more involved in groups for older people after I was made redundant, when I suddenly felt old and useless. I joined the FACT group and was introduced to some wonderful exhibitions which are a combination of art and science. It’s wonderful learning more about the future and it’s been a breath of fresh air working with schools and youth clubs on projects. This also introduced me to the Liverpool Cares family who have been a godsend during lockdown especially, connecting many older people who have been isolated and housebound with other older people and their wonderful younger volunteers. I have met new people through Zoom across the country and it’s a great way of hearing about other people’s lives.
How is Liverpool already age-friendly? What has the city achieved so far?
In May 2020, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority joined the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities. Steve Rotherham, the Metro Mayor, has been very active in this work and there were various events pre-lockdown to consult the various ageing forums on how to become age-friendly. One initiative is that Liverpool provides free travel in the Merseyside area to all people aged over 60, which is a huge benefit in enabling people to get out and about.
There will also be a new fleet of trains on the Merseyrail Network which will be the most accessible rail fleet in the country. I was part of the group who were consulted about the plans for the new network. As a partially deaf, older person it was really good to be included and listened to.
The HOPs group, which is a group combining the Liverpool museums, the FACT and the Open Eye Gallery for older people, is so beneficial to our wellbeing. Pre-lockdown we had many events to engage older people and be inclusive. There are still some online sessions but will be great to go back to making new friends and visiting interesting exhibitions once all restrictions are lifted. The staff that run this group are wonderful and I have had some really enjoyable times at various events.
How will Liverpool change if the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing is a success?
I feel Liverpool has a lot to offer but needs to reach out to more people who are isolated, who are at a loss after retirement and who are new to the area. Being active and connected with others is really important, it’s good for wellbeing and health so I’m hoping for more inter-generational projects and both older people and younger people have so much to learn from each other. I would also like more cultural activities so we could learn about people’s cultures, their music, food, dress customs and so on. Sometimes it’s hard fitting in. If people could understand each other’s point of view, it would unite people.
The other thing is that older people still enjoy life; I’m abseiling down the Anglican Cathedral in July to help get donations for the Liverpool Cares Team.
Liverpool will change for the better if the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing is a success. The idea is to break down barriers based on age, provide policies and programmes for older and younger people and try to create a world of all ages. That would reduce the amount of loneliness that leads to mental health problems, and we can all really learn from each other, no matter what age. It will also improve health services and in turn our health and wellbeing as we move through the golden years of ageing.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the policy or positions of the Centre for Ageing Better.