An initiative that really is ageing well

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A COUNTY project to help elderly people stay active and connected has received national recognition.

Northumberland County Council was recently given a ‘highly commended’ accolade in the Local Government Association Awards, coming second of all the authorities in the country in the Community Involvement category for the work of the Ageing Well programme.

The project promotes the health and well-being of pensioners within their local communities by bringing them and local organisations together.

It offers information and support to help ensure that elderly people stay as physically and mentally well as they can. The bodies involved are looking to develop good places to grow older based on strong evidence of what works, as well as delivering a series of activities to promote good health.

Ageing Well was initiated and is led by county councillor Veronica Jones, who represents Ponteland, Stamfordham and Matfen.

She said: “I am so pleased that the hard work involved in this programme has been given recognition.

“The award reflects the success in making lives better for older people with the close involvement of all partners in Northumberland, including the county council, healthcare services and the voluntary sector.

“It recognises the work local older people have done with us in 21 projects across Northumberland.

“The aim of Ageing Well is to ensure that as many older people as possible can be active, connected and well.

“We see older people as a great asset and want to help make the most of their skills, experience and energy and it offers a contrast to the negativity about age, about the doom and gloom and the ‘problems’ an older population is causing.

“It is about treating older people as citizens rather than users of services and this award is a boost for their efforts.”

Future work will include more inter-generational activities and tackling the loneliness agenda, with the aim of bringing loneliness ‘out of the closet’.

Coun Jones added: “Ageing Well is a concept as well as a programme and it is a concept that is appealing to older people and to organisations.”

The project is funded through the county council and it is supported by the active involvement of elderly people across Northumberland.

Partner organisations include Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, local community and voluntary bodies, housing associations and leisure services.

For more information, telephone John Dowswell on 01670 394400. Electronic versions of Ageing Well leaflets can also be sent out. Email ask@northumberland.gov.uk to make a request.