Ageing Better in Birmingham is a programme working to reduce isolation in the city through a grass-roots approach designed to empower and connect individuals, helping to create sustainable change in communities.
The programme started in April 2015 and is delivered by Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC). It is funded by a £6million, six-year grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives initiative and is part of the Ageing Better national strategic programme.
Ageing Better in Birmingham has four priorities
- Supporting older carers
- Ensuring the older LGBT community does not go ‘back into the closet’
- Tyburn, which has a high population over 80
- Sparkbrook where there are language barriers and cultural differences.
The programme focusses on Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and work with organisations such as Age UK, Birmingham LGBT, Narthex, Compass Support, Forward Carers and Age Concern as well as with members of the community, some of whom have experienced isolation themselves and are now helping to inform the programme across all work streams.
People in Birmingham are encouraged to take an active approach to bringing people together in their local neighbourhood. This could be anything from organising a weekly coffee morning to a healthy exercise class with a focus on Bollywood and Bhangra dancing, from changing a neighbour's lightbulb to helping them with their gardening. So far, the programme has supported over 200 individual groups of people who come together with their neighbours in Birmingham.
In total, over 6,000 citizens of all ages has taken part across the city.
We are really pleased with the project’s progression in engaging participants of all ages as well as isolated older people. We are seeing a decrease in both people’s loneliness and isolation.
Looking ahead, we’re linking up with more organisations in Birmingham and there are larger pieces of work being commissioned at the moment, such as Connect Sparkbrook, Age-Friendly Tyburn and Making Space for Carers – all forming part of our Priority Area Local Action Plans.