Time to take pride in your community

Sunderland Age UK operations manager Victoria Brown (centre) with the post cards for the Pride of Place campaign and volunteers Maureen Wood (left) and Beartice Smith (right).

Sunderland Age UK operations manager Victoria Brown (centre) with the post cards for the Pride of Place campaign and volunteers Maureen Wood (left) and Beartice Smith (right).

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OLDER people are declaring war on street snags and transport gripes which make their life harder.

Age UK Sunderland has launched a new Pride of Place campaign aimed at improving neighbourhoods for older people and everyone else.

The charity says many older people are prevented from getting out and about in their area due to barriers such as a lack of public transport, uneven pavements, access to public toilets or places to sit down.

Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland, said: “It’s vital that we invest in our neighbourhoods to ensure older people can go on being active and contribute to our communities for as long as possible. After all, we now have more over 60s than under 18s.

“This is a national campaign we’re getting involved in, and it very much fits in with the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly City’s work.”

Mr Patchett said if problems from uneven pavement to poor bus services stopped older people going out, it could lead to a “spiral of decline” which would see individuals in need of more care and support.

He said lack of activities was also an issue and could lead to similar problems of isolation and associated health and social problems.

“For some older people without families, the activities we provide are the only chance they have to come and be with other people,” he said.

The campaign will see older people issued with postcards to outline their problems to councillors. Mr Patchett said all 75 of Sunderland’s councillors had also been sent packs asking them to get involved.

“We are inviting local councillors to become Pride of Place advocates and work with us and with older people locally to improve neighbourhoods in this area,” he said.

“We want councillors to engage with older people in their areas and see what’s required to make the place better for older people – and, actually, for everybody.”

Mr Patchett said councillors are best-placed to look at such issues and get something done, but research by Age UK shows more than half of over-60s in the North East have never had any contact with their councillor.

The charity said the “worrying figures highlight the huge challenge” councillors face in reaching out and making contact with older people.

* Pride of Place postcards are available by phoning 514 1131 or through the Age UK website www.ageuk.org.uk/prideofplace.