International Older People’s Day 

On the International Day of Older People this year we’re sharing some of the work that has been taking place through the Age Better in Sheffield programme, focusing on this year’s theme of The Journey to Age Equality. 

By Hannah Thornton · September 30, 2019

Written by Victoria Penman.

On the International Day of Older People this year we’re sharing some of the work that has been taking place through the Age Better in Sheffield programme, focusing on this year’s theme of The Journey to Age Equality. 

Firstly, and most significantly, our Core Partnership took the decision half way through the programme to focus more of our resources on working towards making Sheffield an Ageing Friendly city. We believe that people of all ages have the right live in a city that gives them the opportunity to live a full and active life and to contribute to society. As a partnership which seeks to reduce loneliness and isolation and improve wellbeing for older people, we believe that these are important to achieving our aims: in a city that is Ageing Friendly people have a greater chance of active ageing and living well.  

Towards the end of last year we commissioned two local organisations, Age UK Sheffield and Lai Yin, to work on this agenda. Great progress has been made over the last year. The projects have worked closely with people from around the city to develop an understanding of what is important to people over 50 in Sheffield and has identified key priorities for older people in Sheffield around the eight Age Friendly domains: 

  • Outdoor spaces and buildings 
  • Transport 
  • Respect and social inclusion 
  • Social participation 
  • Civic participation and employment 
  • Communication and information  
  • Community and health services 

We’re proud that, in June, Sheffield was accepted as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, the first step on the road towards becoming an Age Friendly City. Sheffield City Council have endorsed the baseline report developed by Age UK and Lai Yin, and today they join with local authorities from the UK Network of Age-Friendly Communities to commit to the #AgeProud campaign tackling ageism. 

Much of our work contributes towards increasing equality for older people, but we’ve been working particularly towards achieving age equality in the workplace. We know that good paid work is really important to people of all ages. Work gives people a sense of purpose, achievement and belonging as well as the financial independence to enjoy life and live well. But we know that employers don’t always recognise the value that older workers can bring to the workplace, and that they don’t always know the best ways to attract or retain older employees.  

We’re delighted that this year the Age Better in Sheffield core delivery team has been in a position to take on three new members of staff and that two of these are over 60, with people from the age group that we work with now making up almost half of our core team. Gilli, one of our new employees, says “Joining the Age Better Team is not only an opportunity to use the skills and experience I’ve acquired throughout my working life but the chance to take on a fresh challenge and to learn new things. Having an employer who is positive about older people in the work place made a huge difference to how I felt about applying for a new job at 60.”   

For people who have health challenges that impact on their ability to work, being at the older end of the age range can be a further barrier. To help address this, we’ve also partnered with the ground-breaking health led employment trial Working Win by commissioning Sheffield based All About You to recruit older people with health problems to receive support to get back into the workplace or to stay in work.  

At the same time, we’ve been working with Working Win to develop training for employers about what it means to be an Age Inclusive employer, the benefits of employing older people within the workplace and how to have a strengths-based approach to recruiting, retaining and supporting an age-diverse workforce.  

All of our projects are doing great work for older people, and some of our projects have included lobbying and campaigning work to improve access to services for older people. Older people are often underserved by mental health services and our Wellbeing Practitioners project seeks to improve access to psychological therapies. Their innovative model allows people aged over 50 to access counselling in their own home and local community, as well as actively seeking to reduce stigma around accessing therapy.  

Better Journeys provide advice and support to people in Firth Park ward who are finding it difficult to travel independently, and at the same time are working with older people to influence travel providers to take older people into consideration when making decisions. 

Finally, on a different theme, we recognise that the romantic and intimate relationships that people have are closely related to their wellbeing and to loneliness. We were delighted, during Sexual Health Awareness week, to host a seminar delivered by Dr Sharron Hinchcliffe from the University of Sheffield to explore the theme of sexual rights for older people. Sharron is committed to raising awareness of the importance and challenges of sexuality for older adults and to improving their access to services, and we were pleased to be able to play some small part in this important work.