WE’RE launching Ageing Well Oldham this week – a great new initiative to improve the lives of residents over the age of 50.
This is an increasingly important agenda because our population is ageing.
It’s good news that people are living longer than before, but it also creates challenges that need a strategic approach.
Part of that, of course, is the need to improve overall health across Oldham, which we are addressing through measures like the integration of our health and social care into a Local Care Organisation in April.
But this demographic change is also going to have profound impacts on costs, demand, and the sustainability of future health budgets.
Ageing Well Oldham is part of our response to these issues and has very clear aims.
We want to improve the lives of people aged over 50 so they can continue to contribute to – and benefit from – economic growth, and can also enjoy a good quality of life and be able to contribute to society.
It’s about us tackling barriers like social isolation, improving health services, encouraging more active participation in communities and creating better wellbeing opportunities.
We’re coordinating this work across Greater Manchester as part of our vision to make it the first age-friendly city region in the country.
This is a pledge to be a place that ensures it hears and represents the voices of the older population and makes decisions that take their needs and experiences into full account.
Working with partners we’ve now set up the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub to provide that strategic response to an older population.
Barriers can prevent older people from being active in their communities and having a good quality of life but, of course, many people wouldn’t necessarily recognise these until they experience them in later life.
Ageing Well Oldham aims to help on several levels: assisting people to further their careers, to get help with business funding and to improve their health and wellbeing.
Each Thursday we will hold sessions at Werneth Lifelong Learning Centre (below) where people over 50 can get free access to things that can really make a difference to their lives, including employment advice and information from our Get Oldham Working team, Job Centre Plus and Learn Direct staff.
The sessions can also help people to identify skills or capabilities they need to help them get to the next step on their chosen career path through our Career Advancement Service. There will also be advice for those who want a new challenge and are looking for a change in direction as to how they could embark on a new and different career.
While it may surprise you to hear this, the over-50s are also a powerhouse of new businesses. Some are also drawn to the idea of enjoying a second career, often in something they always wanted to do with their lives, and find they have more spare time than before to achieve this.
The growth in UK self-employment since 2000 has been very much driven by this group.
At Ageing Well Oldham people will be able to get information about potential funding and grants from Give it a Go, the Greater Manchester Growth Hub and other agencies.
You can also get free advice and support from our Oldham Community Leisure staff who will point you in the right direction to stay healthy, take up a new activity, get in shape and meet other people in classes and schemes in your area.
The sessions are taking place every Thursday from 9.30am to 2.30pm (from Thursday, March 22 onwards).
Each day consists of three different focusses: Health and wellbeing sessions from 9.30am to 10.30am; employability-related workshops from 10.15am to Noon; and enterprise development support from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.
This agenda is all about us working better together to tackle social, economic and health inequalities in later life – something we all have a vested interest in to create a truly inclusive economy.
Please have a think about whether you – or a family member or friend – could benefit from Ageing Well Oldham and find more information at the website here.