Two older people in a park garden looking at flowers.

Greater Manchester putting place and older people’s voices at the heart of age-friendly projects

With people aged 75 and over spending at least 80 per cent of their time in their home or the surrounding area, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is engaging with older residents across the city-region to ensure that our neighbourhoods are good places to grow older.

Our population is ageing rapidly and by 2040, for the first time in history, over 40% of the UK population will be aged 50 and over.

Nationally, there is growing recognition of the importance of place and neighbourhood in mid to later life and on International Day of Older Persons 2023 (1 October), Greater Manchester joined communities around the UK in celebrating the role of neighbourhood in ageing well.

The Ageing in Place Pathfinder, a partnership programme led by GMCA, is investing £4 million over a three-year period in nine neighbourhoods within Greater Manchester to improve local residents’ quality of life as they grow older.

The following neighbourhoods have been identified by local authorities and other partners as places that would benefit from the Pathfinder:

• Little Lever, Bolton
• Moorside, Bury
• Abbey Hey, Manchester
• Kirkholt and Smallbridge, Rochdale
• Pendleton and Charlestown, Salford
• Brinnington, Stockport
• Ridge Hill, Tameside
• Old Trafford, Trafford
• Worsley Mesnes, Wigan

In these neighbourhoods, resident-led partnerships between local organisations and older people will co-produce action plans to deliver improvements to local services, activities, projects and the physical environment. By putting inclusivity and older people’s voices at the heart of the work, the Pathfinder aims to make meaningful and lasting changes to help residents age well.

GMCA is also working with policymakers, developers, architects, academics and older people to increase the quality and quantity of age-friendly housing across the city-region.

An interdisciplinary Housing, Planning and Ageing Group, chaired by Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, has produced the ‘Creating Age-Friendly Developments’ guide.

The guide offers a list of age-friendly factors for architects, planners and developers to consider when creating new or retrofit urban developments, including how older people's voices should be included in the planning process, how neighbourhoods can support ageing in place, and features of age-friendly housing.

Shannon Conway, Co-founder of Picture This and member of Greater Manchester Housing, Planning and Ageing Group, said: “Many working in the property industry associate the term “age-friendly” with specialist retirement and later living development.

“This document provides a straightforward guide with examples of how age-friendly principles can be incorporated throughout all our buildings and public realm, futureproofing our built environment for all-ages communities.”

By providing guidance to industry professionals on how to be inclusive of people in mid to later life when creating new housing schemes, the guide aims to help residents of our city-region age well for generations to come.

Nakib Narat, Co-chair of Greater Manchester Older People’s Equality Panel, said: “Many older people spend a lot of time in or around their home and that means it is essential to make sure all of our neighbourhoods and communities are age-friendly.

“To do this, it is vitally important that the voices of older people are at the centre of every place across Greater Manchester, we know these places and our contributions should be valued and celebrated.

“Join the age-friendly movement and together let’s make Greater Manchester a great place to age well.”

Councillor Arooj Shah, GMCA lead for Equalities and Communities, said: “We cannot ignore the fact that our population is ageing and action needs to be taken to ensure that Greater Manchester is accessible and welcoming to people of all ages.

“Our homes and communities are of increased importance to us as we grow older, so it is vital that we put place and neighbourhood at the heart of our decision-making.

“By engaging with older people and key stakeholders at a local level, we can significantly improve the lives of residents in mid to later life across our city-region.”

Article Published: 02/10/2023 14:22 PM