Learning and Resources from the Ageing Better Programme

Ruth Bamford, Learning Lead for Ageing Better at The National Lottery Community Fund, shares some of the impact from their Ageing Better programme.

The National Lottery Community Fund’s Ageing Better programme was a seven-year, £87 million programme designed to test different ways of improving the lives of people over 50 by addressing social isolation and loneliness within local communities. The programme was delivered by 14 place-based partnerships across England.

In this article, Ruth Bamford, Learning Lead for Ageing Better at The National Lottery Community Fund, shares below some of the impact from their Ageing Better programme, as well as highlighting the importance of delivering a person-centred approach when addressing loneliness and social isolation.

Reach, key learning and impact

During the programme’s seven-year duration, more than 150,000 people over the age of 50 engaged in Ageing Better. It was especially effective at engaging groups particular risk of experiencing loneliness and social isolation, including older people from the LGBTQ+ community, as well as from ethnic minority backgrounds.

To ensure learnings and evaluation from across the programme is available, The National Lottery Community Fund recently published the Ageing Better Programme: Summative Report and the Ageing Better: Impact Evaluation Report.

The Summative Report provides a comprehensive overview of the programme and shares key learnings and recommendations. It highlights the importance and impact of involving people through co-production, adopting a ‘warm welcome’ approach, and working in partnership across sectors.

The programme’s Impact Report shows that Ageing Better had a measurable impact overall on participants’ wellbeing and levels of social contact. Our qualitative research also identified improvements in people’s confidence and in their sense of being in control of their lives, together with increased resilience. We found that being involved in Ageing Better and engaging in groups and activities enabled people to broaden their social networks, so “buffering” them from the impact of additional life events.

We talk about our Ageing Better national learning in terms of context, connections and ecosystem. These three interconnected segments build a picture of the macro and micro factors, services and support systems that help us to better understand loneliness and social isolation in people aged over 50. More information about this can be found in our Tenets of Ageing Better  paper, but here we will focus on the importance of building connections and delivering a person-centred approach.

The importance of connections and a person-centred support

We know that understanding someone’s unique situation is key to engaging with them as an individual because no “one size fits all”! By identifying the reasons why someone may be struggling to make connections, recognising their strengths, and taking a holistic person-centred approach, we can better understand a person’s specific situation and thereby tailor support accordingly. We learnt that where isolation was embedded and entrenched, people needed to be given some level of one-to-one support to help address their isolation.

Changing a person’s situation takes time, often involves skilled professionals and a broad network of multiple different agencies. Triage diagnosis and one-to-one support has been a key part of the work – identifying any priorities such as mental health support or financial issues before being able to go on and look at improving an individual’s social connections.

For example, Age Better in Sheffield and Ambition For Ageing in Greater Manchester provided one to one sessions in budgeting and financial coaching to improve people’s financial literacy. Ageless Thanet delivered a “Life Planning” service which not only included financial planning, but also wider “wrap around” support such as links with befriending services.

A key approach within Ageing Better has been to help to identify an individual’s barriers and then work with them towards achieving their personalised set of goals. Every person’s outcome will vary, with the journey out of social isolation and loneliness being different for everyone. For some, support results in improved wellbeing, but for others either their situation will not change fundamentally, or their physical decline will continue. Valuing and respecting these different end points is a crucial element of working in a person-centred way.

Creating a “Warm Welcome”

Through Ageing Better, we’ve learnt that you can’t engineer friendship, but that there is a lot you can do to facilitate or create an environment where connections and natural friendships can develop. A community that has a wide range of activities that people want to take part in creates an environment where people can feel connected. The activities themselves act as the “hook” for people wanting to get engaged and involved, which then builds confidence and allows people to make those vital natural friendships.

The Ageing Better Camden partnership, led by Age UK Camden, developed the “Warm Welcome” approach, building on what local older people were telling them about how to make community groups as welcoming as possible and how important it was. A range of factors were identified through this, including meeting and greeting, ensuring opportunities for social interaction and relationship building, facilitation and fostering a sense of community. The resulting Warm Welcome toolkit and guide is a great resource.

Legacy of Ageing Better

Since it launched in 2015, the programme has contributed a wealth of learning, evidence and practical guidance to support organisations interested in addressing loneliness and social isolation among people over 50. We’re continuing to support our partnerships to share their learning and expertise by funding Good Practice Mentors in all Ageing Better partnerships, and a full suite of evidence and learnings taken from the programme can be found on the Ageing Better page on The National Lottery Community Fund’s website.

If you’d like to hear more about our work, or link up with a Good Practice Mentor, please get in touch with Ruth at ruth.bamford@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk.

Loneliness Awareness Week – Resources to tackle loneliness all year round

Following on from Loneliness Awareness Week, here are some resources to help local Age UKs to continue tackling loneliness all year round!

Thank you to everyone who helped to make Loneliness Awareness Week a success! Following on from last week, there are some fantastic resources now available to support your regular work. Find out full details below.

The resources available cover a whole range of topics, including:

  • Supporting low-income households to overcome loneliness
  • Social prescribing to tackle loneliness
  • Loneliness in the workplace

Available Resources

1. Webinar – Tackling Loneliness at its Roots

If you missed our webinar, Tackling Loneliness at its Roots: how can we best support low-income households to overcome social isolation?, you can watch it here.

Thanks again to Jenny Paton from Age UK Wirral for an excellent presentation on their work tackling loneliness in conjunction with their local hospital trust, this is definitely worth a watch.

2. Social Prescribing Materials

If you’re working on or interested in social prescribing, you can access some great material from our resource drive here.

We worked with other organisations tackling loneliness through social prescribing to pool resources, and have collated some really helpful Guidance and Top Tips and Research and Evidence material.

3. Workshop – Loneliness in the Workplace

If you missed the workshop on loneliness in the workplace, take this opportunity to look at some of the material presented and think about what you can do to support staff and colleagues who may be experiencing loneliness.

You can access these resources here.

4. Loneliness Minister’s Visit to Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire

And if you haven’t already, read more here about the Loneliness Minister’s visit to walking football in his constituency at Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire last Friday.

A huge thank you to everyone who worked to make the visit such a success.

If you have any further questions, please contact Rhianon.Steeds@ageuk.org.uk.

Loneliness Awareness Week 2022 | 13-17th June | Ways to get involved

There are lots of ways to get involved with this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week! Find out more below, including some upcoming events!

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week, a great chance to connect with others working in the sector to tackle loneliness and promote your services. Here’s a reminder of some of the ways you can get involved, including: template social media wording to help spread the word; details of our webinar tomorrow; and Thursday’s Tackling Loneliness Hub workshop on addressing loneliness in the workplace.

If you have 5 minutes:

You can spread the word on your social media channels, using these template social media posts and graphics to raise awareness of loneliness, recruit new volunteers and promote your services.

All the materials you need are on the Box here.

If you have an hour:

Join us at our webinar, Tackling Loneliness at its Roots: how can we best support low-income households to overcome social isolation?

It will be hosted by Age UK on behalf of the DCMS Tackling Loneliness Champions. The panel will be discussing long-term, sustainable solutions to support those on low incomes to overcome loneliness, and will shine a spotlight on several innovative schemes.

Date: Tuesday 14th June, 11am-12pm

Chair: Darren Henry MP, Vice-chair of the APPG for Tackling Loneliness and Connected Communities

Platform: Zoom, please register here in advance

Speakers:

  • Robin Hewings, Programme Director, Campaign to End Loneliness
  • Jenny Paton, Deputy CEO, Age UK Wirral
  • Simone Banks, Lead Youth Worker, Youth Focus North East
  • Timothy Leech, CEO, Wavelength

If you would like to attend, please register here.

If you have an hour and a half:

Attend the Tackling Loneliness Hub workshop on addressing loneliness in the workplace. Please register here.

Date: Thursday 16th June, 2-3.30pm

This workshop will be a chance to hear examples of what works and understand how loneliness can affect colleagues and organisations. By the end of the workshop, we’ll have developed initial steps for addressing loneliness within our own organisations, with a particular focus on employee life cycles.

The workshop will cover:

1. Overview of Employers and Loneliness Guide

2. In focus: research on loneliness in the workplace

3. Case study and discussion: Re-engage approach to addressing loneliness in the workplace

4. Addressing loneliness throughout the employee lifecycle and life stages.

If you have any questions or would like any more information about Loneliness Awareness Week, please email Rhianon.Steeds@ageuk.org.uk.

Loneliness Awareness Week 2022 | 13-17 June

There are lots of ways to get involved with this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week! Find out more below, including some upcoming events!

There are lots of exciting activities going on and ways for you to get involved in this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week! It’s a great chance to connect with others working in the sector to tackle loneliness and promote your services. Read on for some template social media wording to help spread the word, as well as details of our upcoming webinar and the Tackling Loneliness Hub workshop on addressing loneliness in the workplace.

Upcoming Event: Updates from our Loneliness Community of Interest 

Book your place at the upcoming update event from the Age UK Network’s Loneliness Community of Interest. The event will be held on Wednesday 8th June, 10.00 – 11.30.

There are a few places left at the Age UK Update Event exploring the work of the Loneliness Community of Interest. This event will be held on Wednesday 8th June, 10.00 – 11.30. If you would like to take part, please register using the link here or read on for full details.

Please join us to hear about the discussions we have had, input into our proposed approaches but also to hear about our learning focusing on:

  • Identifying and assessing loneliness risk and need 
  • Guided Conversations and goal setting
  • Community asset mapping and local partnerships 
  • Delivering a multi stranded offer to older people 

The Update Event will be held on Wednesday 8th June 2022, 10.00 – 11.30. If you would like to take part, please register using the link here

For further information about the Event please contact: 

Sarah Jewell: sarah.jewell@ageuk.org.uk or Lauren Chalk: lauren.chalk@ageuk.org.uk 

Ageing Better: A Celebration – Book your place at the final Ageing Better event

Book your place at the final Ageing Better event on Tuesday 28th June from 10:00 – 13:00.

The whole Age UK Network is invited to attend the final Ageing Better event to explore and celebrate the work of the Ageing Better programme, which worked with people aged over 50 to reduce social isolation and loneliness. This session will share key approaches and learning developed by the Ageing Better programme and its partnerships. The event takes place online on Tuesday 28th June from 10:00 – 13:00 and you can find out full details here.

Upcoming Event: Updates from our Loneliness Community of Interest 

Book your place at the upcoming update event from the Age UK Network’s Loneliness Community of Interest. The event will be held on Wednesday 8th June, 10.00 – 11.30.

The Age UK Network’s Loneliness Community of Interest has been meeting regularly since December and are now hosting an event to provide an update on their progress. The Update Event will be held on Wednesday 8th June, 10.00 – 11.30. If you would like to take part, please register using the link here or read on for full details.

Since the launch of the Age UK Network’s Loneliness Community of Interest on the 1st of December 2021, four groups have been regularly meeting to explores interrelated themes. These are: 

  1. Routes into Loneliness 
  2. Upskilling the Workforce 
  3. Partnership Working 
  4. Multi-stranded Offer 

We would like to bring together local Age UKs from across the Network to hear about what we have been doing and to comment on the thoughts and ideas we have had around supporting older people who are feeling lonely. 

This session will be facilitated by Age UK and will be an opportunity to hear about the topics we have explored, discuss proposed approaches, and to hear about our learning which has focussed on: 

  • Identifying and assessing loneliness risk and need 
  • Guided Conversations and goal setting
  • Community asset mapping and local partnerships 
  • Delivering a multi stranded offer to older people 

The Update Event will be held on Wednesday 8th June 2022, 10.00 – 11.30. If you would like to take part, please register using the link here

For further information about the Event please contact: 

Sarah Jewell: sarah.jewell@ageuk.org.uk or Lauren Chalk: lauren.chalk@ageuk.org.uk 

Upcoming Webinar: Ageing Better – Evolving with hybrid models of delivery

The National Lottery Community Fund’s Ageing Better programme is holding an event to explore the impact, challenges and emerging best practices around hybrid models of delivery.

The Ageing Better programme would like to invite members of the Age UK Network to an event to explore the impact, challenges and emerging best practices around hybrid models of delivery (delivery face-to-face, online and by telephone) developed as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The session will take place on Tuesday 22nd March from 11:00-12:30, click here to book your place, or read on for more details.

The pandemic prevented most face-to-face delivery, requiring organisations to adapt and evolve their ways of working overnight. As we emerge from restrictions, hybrid models of delivery that blend offline and online elements, continue to evolve.

Drawing on learning from The National Lottery Community Fund’s Ageing Better programme, which sought to address loneliness and social isolation among people over 50, this session will explore the models being developed by Ageing Better partners as part of their work over the last 18 months.

About the event

The session will take place on Tuesday 22nd March from 11:00-12:30. It is being organised by Kaleidoscope Health and Care who are working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund.

Speakers from Ageing Better partnership areas across England will discuss:

  • The context for, and advantages of, using a hybrid model of delivery
  • The challenges that providers and services have experienced in adapting to a hybrid model of delivery
  • Emerging practice and learning from the Ageing Better programme

There’ll also be lots of opportunities for discussion and space to share experiences, challenges and solutions.

This event will be relevant to anyone involved in running groups, services or activities aimed at people aged 50+ seeking to address loneliness and isolation. 

If you are able to attend please sign up at the Eventbrite link here.

Loneliness Measurement Workshop Series

The Loneliness Measurement Workshop Series, is a set of three, free workshops designed to support understanding of loneliness evaluation approaches and methods.

The Campaign to End Loneliness and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing are working together to host the Loneliness Measurement Workshop Series. This series of three, free workshops is designed to support understanding of loneliness evaluation approaches and methods for different VSCE organisations. These will be interactive workshops, enabling you to ask questions, learn from your peers, and share your own learnings of loneliness evaluation. Find out full details, including how to book your place, on the Eventbrite page.

Seeking your input on Loneliness Funding from the Department for Transport

Age UK is considering applying for funding from the Department for Transport which would enable us to distribute grants across the Age UK network. We are seeking thoughts from the network as to where we should focus our application.

The Department for Transport has launched a funding opportunity which aims to better understand the role that transport can play in reducing loneliness. Age UK is considering applying for funding which would enable us to distribute grants across the Age UK network. At this stage we are seeking thoughts, ideas and suggestions from the local network as to where we should focus any application we may submit. Find out full details below, including how you can submit your thoughts.

The Department for Transport has launched a funding opportunity which aims to better understand the role that transport can play in reducing loneliness, with transport as an enabler – the way in which people get to the people and/or places that will make them feel less lonely – and as a social act itself, because public transport is by nature a shared experience.  Transport in this context could include walking or cycling. Please note that, due to the terms of the funding, this opportunity is not open to local partners outside England.

The aims of the funding are:

  • to implement and deliver a range of effective, targeted pilot transport schemes for those at risk of loneliness
  • to build an evidence base on transport and loneliness, particularly among vulnerable groups
  • to demonstrate how new transport pilot schemes or a different approach using the existing transport network can trial new and innovative ways of tackling loneliness. Where applicable this may involve the continuation, adaptation or expansion of existing provision
  • to fund a range of transport-related schemes that target lonely groups

Survey

Age UK is considering applying for funding which would enable us to distribute grants across the Age UK network. At this stage we are seeking thoughts, ideas and suggestions from the local network as to where we should focus any application we may submit.

We want to ensure that any funded programme will have the greatest possible impact on older people and will be beneficial for the local network. Therefore we are asking that local partners respond to this short survey (five questions) to help us understand the best way to approach this opportunity.

We would be grateful if you could complete the survey as soon as possible, and by 17th January 2022 at latest.  If you’ve any queries about this opportunity please contact alison.ingram@ageuk.org.uk