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Making Birmingham an Age-friendly City

Older people boarding a train

Birmingham City Council has committed to achieving the World Health Organisation's Age-friendly City status for Birmingham. Ageing Better in Birmingham will help the council achieve this during our final year, and our Age of Experience members have already taken an active part in supporting this work. 

What is an Age-friendly City?

 Throughout our lives, the environments we live in are an important factor in determining our physical and mental wellbeing. As we age, they also affect how well we adjust to the ageing process. An Age-friendly City is one where people can live healthy and active later lives. It's a city where the environment, activities and services support and enable older people to enjoy life and feel well, where older people are active participants in society and are valued for their contributions. Finally, in an Age-friendly City, older people have enough money to live well and feel safe and secure at home and in their communities, with access to quality health and care.

How can we know if a city is Age-friendly?

 The World Health Organisation has developed an Age-friendly Cities framework in consultation with older people (see www.who.int/ageing/age_friendly_cities_guide/en/). Underpinned by evidence of what enables healthy and active ageing, the framework is based on eight interconnected areas of urban life, or 'domains'. These domains represent the social and built environment, overlapping and interacting with each other. Their quality and our interactions with them can affect our ability to remain healthy, happy, and independent as we age. They are:

  1. Community & Health Care
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Social Participation
  5. Outdoor Spaces & Buildings
  6. Respect & Social Inclusion
  7. Civic Participation and Employment
  8. Communication & Information

As an example, it's vital that older people continue to participate in community life. Their ability to do this is determined by many factors, such as the accessibility of public buildings and spaces, the range of opportunities on offer for social participation, entertainment, volunteering, employment, and the city's transport systems. A lack of affordable public transport can isolate older people who don't drive, making participation in community life difficult and increasing the risk of isolation and loneliness. When public transport is adapted to older people's needs in terms of accessibility, frequency and routes, this enhances mobility and facilitates social participation and a sense of connection to the community.

 What role will the Age of Experience group play in supporting Birmingham to achieve Age-friendly City status?

Ageing Better in Birmingham's coproduction group members have actively supported the work around Age-friendly already, helping us steer the conversation around what matters for people over 50 across the city. We're looking forward to work with the group as well as across the programme to further the work and make Birmingham a great city to grow older in. 

You can find out more about Age-friendly Cities at:

www.ageing-better.org.uk/uk-network-age-friendly-communities

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