All the small things: Promise to make Manchester more age-friendly, urges Mayor

Manchester’s people and business are being encouraged to become more age-friendly and pledge to increase awareness of the needs of the city’s older citizens by the Lord Mayor herself. 

The project, which was announced on the council’s Facebook page on March 23, aims to unite Manchester’s community in an era where people are living for longer and the elderly population is growing.

Wates Construction group have already pledged to build benches in South Manchester, while the city centre’s Tesco store are working with the Alzheimer’s Society to make staff ‘dementia friendly’ and help customers who may find their shopping trip challenging.

Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Susan Cooley explained how important it was to consider old people’s needs and how beneficial the scheme could be for everybody. 

“The main thing is that we want to get people thinking about what it’s like for older people in this city,” she said.

“The only way we can bring on societal change is to ask everyone to think about their own attitudes and beliefs – and then make suggestions around how we show respect for that life experience.

“It may only be a seemingly small thing – like promising to give up a seat on the bus – but on a city scale it could have a major impact.”

The average life expectancy in Manchester is 75 for men and 80 for women, both of which have increased by one year since 2009.

With around 116,200 people over the age of 50 living in Manchester – 34,300 of which are over 70 – it is considered that approximately one in five older citizens are suffering from issues caused by loneliness .

Ray Gridley, Chief Executive of Age UK, believed the pledges could only have a positive impact on the elderly community.

He said: “We would like to see communities offer support to agencies that work with some of Manchester’s most frail citizens so that they can be supported in a way that is positive and that enriches the quality of life for the older person.

“We want older adults to experience a really good quality of life, full of opportunities, ambition and fun.

“In order to achieve this we need to make sure that older people are full and active members of their local communities and that their input and experience is understood and valued.”

Manchester Council are already running projects for older citizens based around areas including befriending and mentoring, food, fitness, cooking and nutrition, and mental health and wellbeing.

But people and businesses are being encouraged to develop projects with the elderly or to find new ways to make work practices age-friendly.

Councillor Pat Karney has already pledged by including a float dedicated to celebrating the city’s older people in this year’s Manchester Day Parade.

Online pledge forms are available by clicking here and the top 30 entries will be judged by the Age-Friendly team and its board of older people.

Image courtesy of Marcel Oosterwijk, with thanks.

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