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Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better

Reducing social isolation among older people in England
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Funding size:
£2 million - £6 million
Total available:
£78 million
Application deadline:
This programme is now closed

What’s it all about?

This programme is now closed for applications

Our National Evaluators, Ecorys UK have produced two new learning reports in October 2018, as part of an ongoing series aiming to share thematic learning from our 14 partnerships.

These are: Learning Report 2 – Community Connector schemes – which explores a key element of the work of some of our partnerships, which are running person-centred projects connecting people aged over 50 to their communities in order to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Learning Report 3 – Groups at Risk of Marginalisation – which explores data generated from our partnerships regarding particularly marginalised groups of people aged over 50 who we know face unique barriers (Black Minority Ethic, Lesbian Gay Bisexual, carers and those living alone) and how the Ageing Better programme is working to support them to improve their lives.

These new reports are in addition to our previous report which was an overview of the work of our 14 partnerships, with some key statistics about programme reach and engagement: Ageing Better: National Evaluation short report July 2018.

You can also read our June 2018 briefing, which shares some key achievements from the programme to date, and a summary of what we are learning about older people, social isolation and loneliness.

We have invested £78 million in England to improve the lives of people aged over 50, through the funding of 14 partnerships to address social isolation and loneliness within their local communities.

The focus of the Ageing Better programme is to support people aged over 50 who are experiencing or at risk of social isolation and loneliness, so that they can lead more fulfilling lives, better connected to their communities.

Our funded projects are working towards achieving the following outcomes.

People aged 50 and over are:

  • less isolated and lonely
  • actively involved in their communities, with their views and participation valued more highly
  • more engaged in the design and delivery of services that improve their social connections.

The programme also aims to support:

  • services that improve social connections to be better planned, co-ordinated and delivered
  • the development of better evidence about how to reduce isolation and loneliness for people aged over 50, in order to improve the design of services in the future.

We have also awarded a £50 million ten-year endowment to The Centre for Ageing Better. Its primary aim is to support a good quality of life in older age and promote the benefits of an ageing society by bridging the gap between research, evidence and practice. The Centre is part of the What Works Centres network in England.

Click on the icons in the map below to find out about funded projects.


Where are we now?

In March 2015, 14 successful projects were given the go ahead to start their projects, and they’re all now delivering locally driven but wide ranging programmes with people aged over 50 at the heart of their activity.

Our June 2018 briefing shares some key achievements from the programme to date, and a summary of what we are learning about older people, social isolation and loneliness.

Learning and evaluation

Through the Ageing Better programme we want to improve evidence in the sector of what works to support people aged over 50 who are at risk of or experiencing social isolation and loneliness.

To help us achieve this we’ve appointed a partnership led by Ecorys that includes Bryson Purdon Social Research and Christina Victor from the Brunel Institute for Ageing Studies at Brunel University.

Our national evaluation partners have worked with each of the 14 areas to produce our first learning report, which gives an overview of the programme so far.

It contains some early evidence about who we are reaching, their circumstances, and the impact of being engaged with our partnerships on their social isolation and loneliness.

It also includes findings from our initial qualitative interviews with partnerships and partner organisations.

Questions and answers

What do you mean by ‘older person’?

We mean anyone over the age of 50. This description applies to all of our older people’s investments in England.

What do you mean by ‘socially isolated’?

We mean older people who live alone or have no support networks. This might be the result of poor health, bereavement or geography. These are just examples, however; there is a range of reasons why older people become socially isolated.

How did you choose the areas that will benefit?

First, we identified 100 local authority areas to submit an expression of interest form. We chose these areas based on the proportion of people aged over 50 who experienced risk factors for social isolation and loneliness, and the general proportion of older people living within those areas.

Risk factors included:

  • personal circumstances, such as living alone, being single, being divorced or never having married
  • personal characteristics, such as being over 75
  • being from an ethnic minority community
  • being gay or lesbian
  • later life events, including bereavement, retirement, developing care needs or becoming a carer.

From the expressions of interest, our England Committee invited 32 areas to submit a vision and strategy application. From these, the committee selected 15 areas to submit detailed plans, of which 14 were successful and awarded full funding.

How did you involve people aged over 50 in the development of the investment?

We’ve co-designed this programme with ongoing engagement and consultation with older people. They’ve shaped our approach and the requirements of the partnerships, and sat on our decision-making committee.

People aged over 50 are also represented on each of the partnerships in a wide range of ways, for example in governance structures, through co-production and co-design of the partnership activities, and in local evaluations.

They are at the heart of the partnerships, and their role continues to be integral in the delivery of current and future activities.

How will you share what you’ve learnt as a result of the programme?

We recognise that there isn’t much evidence about what works in this area, and one of the aims of the programme is to address this.

Therefore, we want to understand how the programme has improved the social isolation and loneliness of people over 50 and share what we’ve learned to improve future practice and investment across the country.

To do this we know we’ll need to collect robust evidence, and our national evaluation consortium (led by Ecorys, with Brunel University and Bryson Purdon Social Research) are working with us and the 14 partnerships to achieve this.

With partnerships, Ecorys has developed a common measurement framework to help all projects collect data about peoples’ circumstances in a consistent way. By combining this high quality information with a detailed qualitative approach, we’ll get an objective and subjective understanding of individuals’ circumstances, and what support helps to improve their lives.

Together with our partnerships we are sharing evidence and learning as it emerges, making sure that it’s relevant to both practitioners and policy makers at a local and national level.

We hope the evidence will demonstrate how and why such work can be of benefit and sustainable, and have a strategic impact on the way future activity and programmes are shaped.

If we are part of an Ageing Better partnership, will this prevent us from accessing other sources of National Lottery funding?

No, organisations that are part of an Ageing Better partnership are still able to apply for other sources of funding, although they will not be able to apply for funding for activities that are being undertaken within the area as part of the Ageing Better initiative.


Organisation Types

  • Public sector organisation
  • Voluntary or community organisation


  • Health and well-being


  • Older people