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£6 million to tackle most socially isolated older people

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Fulfilling Lives Ageing Better
Release date:
8 9 2014

More than 10,000 of Middlesbrough’s most socially isolated older people are to benefit from a £6 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund which will also help pave the way for support for future older generations.

More people are at risk of becoming isolated as the population of older people grows, lacking contact with family or friends, community involvement or access to services. The consequences of social isolation are poor physical and mental health for individuals, less active citizens and a need for more costly services. With its Ageing Better investment, the Big Lottery Fund wants older people to be happier, healthier and more active, contributing even more to their communities.

Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind receives £5,998,248 to lead a partnership of voluntary, statutory and private sector organisations to help up to 10,500 older people in the town. The partnership will target their work in 11 of the town’s 21 wards: Gresham, University, Park, Clairville, Beechwood, Ladgate, Kader, Hemlington, Coulby Newham, Pallister and Beckfield.

There are 10,160 people aged 65 and over in the 11 wards of whom 3,977 are widowed and 2,799 people over 65 with sight loss. There are 2,240 unpaid carers according to census data which Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind believes is an underestimate.

Seven of these wards are in the five percent most socially deprived wards in England. Life expectancy is below regional and national averages, and there is a low uptake of prevention and early diagnosis services.

The Middlesbrough partnership will use outreach workers who will work with local organisations, businesses and clubs, such as community police and libraries to identify socially and contact isolated people to agree plans to improve their wellbeing. Work will focus on older people with health issues, who live alone or who are carers. Psychological support will be offered in people’s homes.

Older people will be engaged in activities to support others who are more isolated to build their confidence. Volunteers will learn to use digital technology and social media to share their skills, focussing on people who have been made redundant, retired and finding it difficult to adjust, or unemployed for a long time. Other older people with skills they have gained during their lives will be encouraged to set up clubs for other older people, such as woodwork clubs for men.

Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind estimates there are nearly 300 groups involving older people in the area but they do not cover an equal geographical spread and some groups are not actively seeking new members. The organisation wants to encourage a more diverse range of activities for older people with plans including target shooting, walking football and ukulele playing.

Emma Howitt, Chief Executive of Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, said: “This is the kind of opportunity and investment we rarely dare to dream about. It will give Mind and our partners the opportunity to work alongside more than 10,000 people aged over 50 in Middlesbrough to tackle the causes of loneliness and isolation. We won’t be providing services in the traditional sense – we will be working alongside older people to give them the opportunity to organise their own networks providing friendship and mutual support. We will be providing older people who are already isolated with additional help to get involved.

“In Middlesbrough many people experience very poor health and difficult social circumstances. Levels of cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease and respiratory disease are all significantly higher than the national average. The poorest and most vulnerable in the town have the worst health and wellbeing. We are targeting people in some of our poorest areas, but we have also identified other areas of the town where people are isolated. We are also prioritising people with health conditions, including mental health, physical health and sensory impairment, people who live alone and older people who are carers.

“There is much activity in Middlesbrough that this programme will be built around. It will generate new evidence about how social contact through community activity can improve health; working with our partners, we hope to use this to change the way society addresses health and social issues in the future. Everyone in the town will be able to get involved in some way.”

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “Just under 4 million older people told Age UK this year that television is their main company. Social isolation is bad for health with links to chronic conditions and increased mortality. With more people living well into their eighties, pressures on local services and budgets will continue to rise.

“There are concerns about a ticking timebomb facing adult social care, but older people have a wealth of experience and skills to offer their communities. We need to tap into this – to help them help themselves and others living alone. Our Ageing Better investment will put them at the heart of the way the projects are designed and delivered to ensure that future generations of older people not only live longer but also live well.”

Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind will be developing more detailed plans to tackle social isolation amongst older people, with projects starting from summer 2015. Over the six years of the Ageing Better investment, the Middlesbrough partnership will test what methods work and what don’t, so that evidence is available to influence services that help reduce isolation for older people in the future.

Middlesbrough is one of 15 partnerships in England sharing £82 million in the Ageing Better investment.

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500572
Website:    www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Twitter:    @biglotteryfund #BigLottery
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFund

Notes to editors

  • *There are 10.8 million older people aged 65 or over in the UK:
    Mid-2012 Population Estimates UK Office for National Statistics, 2013.
  • *The number of people aged 65+ is projected to rise by nearly 50% (48.7%) in the next 20 years to over 16 million:
    National population projections, 2010-based, Office for National Statistics, 2011
  • *3.8 million 65+ live alone. (This is 36% of all people aged 65+ in GB):
    General Lifestyle Survey 2011,Table 3.3. ONS, 2013
  • *Over 1 million older people say they are always or often feel lonely:
    TNS survey for Age UK, April 2014
  • *17% of older people have less than weekly contact with family, friends and neighbours.
    Victor C et al (2003). Loneliness, Social Isolation and Living Alone in Later Life. Economic and Social Research Council.
  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company:
    Age UK, 2014
  • Three top concerns of older people were; bodily pain, loneliness and memory loss:
    Philip, I. (2014) ‘Perfect Ageing: The contribution of assessment’, in Services for older people – what works, Davidson et al (Eds), pp. 40-43, London: Age UK.
  • The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery.
  • The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 it has awarded close to £6bn.
  • In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was awarded to projects. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £31 billion has been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded.