Older people living in south Cumbria are thriving, thanks to a dedicated mission to make the area more socially inclusive.
As members of the UK Network of Age Friendly Communities, Cumbria Community Foundation is working with residents and key partners to develop a local approach to becoming an age-friendly borough.
Age Friendly is a global scheme, based on the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Communities framework – creating social and built environments that promote healthy and active later lives for all.
Cumbria is defined as having a “super-ageing” population, which means the number of older residents is increasing, while the number of younger residents is decreasing.
A private donor has given the initial capital to Cumbria Community Foundation to establish Age Friendly South Lakeland and employ an Age Friendly coordinator for a two year period. Further funding was also received from the Morecambe Bay CCG Population Health Fund.
Katie Gatt’s new role as Age Friendly coordinator will see her engage with the community, raising awareness of the opportunities, events and activities on offer. She also works with older residents to shape the community, identifying where there might be gaps.
Katie said: “I’m really looking forward to embracing this new role. Working with our older residents is a real honour, they have so many interesting stories to tell. It’ll be great to be able to help make their futures a little easier”.
When setting up an Age Friendly community, the first six months involves direct engagement with the people of all ages who live there, to identify priorities and create an action plan. In South Lakeland a steering group has been set up, to ensure it is driven by the very community it is creating.
As part of the scheme, there are other opportunities to get grant funding for smaller and larger initiatives.
October 1 was International Day of Older Persons and, to coincide with that, an Age Friendly Festival was held in Kendal Leisure Centre.
Organisations and partners were invited to network before the doors opened to the public between 11.30am and 3pm.
The festival showcased what is on offer in the South Lakeland area, helping signpost people to the different relevant agencies and gave visitors the chance to try their hand at activities such as walking netball, Boccia, New Age Kurling, Swimming and much more.
More than 20 organisations attended with representatives from Active Cumbria, Kendal Library, Carer Support South Lakes, Age UK South Lakeland along with Mayor of Kendal Julie Dunlop and the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Samantha Scott.