Citizens, community groups and organisations get together during awareness week to highlight isolation across Birmingham.
Ageing Together Week takes place across Birmingham from Monday, January 21st until Sunday, January 27th to raise awareness of isolation and spread the message that people do not need to be alone.
By 2020, almost 57,000 people aged 65 plus will be living alone in Birmingham, increasing their risk of being isolated. These proportions are higher than the England and regional figures.
Recent studies suggest that feeling alone and isolated can contribute towards stress, low self-esteem, disturbed sleep, cardiovascular disease, dementia and other mental health outcomes.
While ageing is inevitable, feeling alone and isolated is not. Ageing should be an invigorating experience where people have new adventures, make new friends and learn new skills well into later life. To help make this a reality across Birmingham, Ageing Better in Birmingham is organising Ageing Together Week, promoting groups of people who have come together to do just that.
Millie Gobbinsingh, 66, of Newtown, started a reading group to help reduce isolation and loneliness among people in her area. Being part of the Windrush generation, she and her friends use storytelling as a way of connecting with their past and present. Speaking of the group, Millie said, “It is a way of getting people to start taking an interest in reading and help reduce isolation for people. Those who can read, read, but we also talk about what’s on TV, or what’s going on with family and friends. Sometimes we don’t get around to talking about the book at all!”
Stephen Raybould, Programme Director for Ageing Better in Birmingham, added, “Social isolation and loneliness has been stressed in the news over the past year and the research is telling us it’s as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The Ageing Better programme is about community cohesion and social infrastructure; it’s about getting people together, to help make people less isolated and better prepared for the future.
“People don’t have to be isolated because there is help and support, and there are activities taking place in their communities. Ageing Together Week is about raising awareness of the opportunities that are out there to make those connections.”
So far, over 6,000 people have benefited from the Ageing Better in Birmingham scheme, which was launched in April 2015 and is delivered by an Ageing Better Partnership, led by BVSC.