“Game plan” call to tackle city’s isolated communities

Calls for “fulfilling future” for thousands at risk of isolation in Birmingham.

The leader of a programme tasked with reducing isolation across Birmingham says a “game plan” must be in place to underpin “a more fulfilling future” for the 57,000 people over 65 predicted to be living alone in the city by 2020.

Statistics compiled by Aston University have revealed 37 per cent of the over 65 age group will be living alone by 2020. This rises to almost 53 per cent of the age group (81,000 people) when including those with a limiting long-term illness.

Ageing Better in Birmingham

Stephen Raybould (pictured), Programme Director of Ageing Better in Birmingham, a £6 million National Lottery funded programme to tackle isolation in the over 50s across the city, said: “The agenda must be set to put the wheels in motion now to prevent a reactive response to the thousands of people at threat of suffering the negative effects of isolation. Everyone must play their part to come up with a game plan to underpin a more fulfilling future for people entering this phase of their life.”

For Ageing Better in Birmingham, being able to offer appealing activities has been key to getting more people to take part in the groups supported by the programme since it was launched in June 2016. More than 5,000 people have participated in activities created by the programme.

Mr Raybould added: “This is about getting involved in the grass roots of local communities now to find out what the over 50s would like to see more of. It can be as simple as setting up a book club – these are the kind of activities that somehow seem too simple to help people become less isolated, yet they have the ability to change lives.

“Programmes like Ageing Better in Birmingham provide that life-changing kick-start which allows people to take charge of their life, but there is no reason why communities cannot rally together to come up with their own agenda. Speak to your neighbours, find out their interests and take it from there.”

To ensure help gets to where it is most needed, four priority areas have been identified – older carers, the older Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community, Tyburn and Sparkbrook. For information about how to get involved, email: ageingbetter@bvsc.org or call 0121 678 8876.