"We need to get more services back into our local communities particularly for older people."Angela Richards
Angela Richards, member of our Age of Experience group, shares her thoughts about her involvement in the programme.
I do a lot of volunteering with various organisations in Birmingham and the West Midlands. I have also gained a lot of enjoyment, knowledge and experience through my career that includes working with older people. It was through a previous colleague called Kath that I first become aware of the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme. At the time, Kath was working in the Carers hub in Sutton Coldfield.
The programme enabled me to take an active role in the city's urban regeneration, supporting community groups to access exercise, financial support for active citizens who want to reduce social isolation and loneliness in Birmingham, and I feel I have been making valuable contributions at meetings and events across the city. Through the programme, I have also travelled to Sheffield, and supported the work around health and welfare of older people.
My career and my role as a member of the Age of Experience group has helped me become aware of many services and organisations working to improve the lives of older people in Birmingham. It has been useful in my role as an active resident where I have been able to share this information with people in the community who could benefit from it.
Following on from the success of Ageing Better in Birmingham, there is a great opportunity for Birmingham citizens to access services and working together: the Neighbourhood Networking Schemes. These are based directly in our local communities and much easier to access. For example, the new 'Sutton Coldfield hub for older people', based at Sutton Coldfield Methodist Church halls, will be a main hub for health services, working with the local authority and other organisations.
"I think that it is always valuable to reflect in order to move forward and learn. Upon reflection we need to get more services back into our local communities particularly for older people."
What do you look forward to over the next couple of years?
The development of service consulting and seeing people working together at ground level. I would like to see regular surgeries held by all services. There is a real need for Local Authorities, social workers, district nurses, occupational therapists, hospitals and other aspects of our community to be in one area and utilise unused community buildings and church halls. So, rather than waiting weeks and months to be referred to a service or having to repeat yourself with different instances, it will be done once, in one document.
I would also like see older people with mobility issues having access to the 2022 Common Wealth Games in Birmingham without feeling like an 'after thought'. Many people fear limited and crowded transport and long queues and I hope Birmingham's games committee will consider how these people can access this great event. The games should provide special shuttle transport for people with mobility blue badges and people over a certain age and make sure they will aren't tucked away in a corner out of the way.
For me, Ageing Better in Birmingham has highlighted the need for services to give more than 'lip service' to their communities. I feel that we are all aware that funds are limited, particularly in times of uncertainty. However, my hope is that Birmingham's leaders pick up from the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme and realise that in order to reduce the impact on the NHS they must look at causes of mental health, social isolation, transport and homelessness with older adults, and the use of technology with older people.
Well done to Ageing Better in Birmingham.