How can rural communities work well for older people?

Lady smiling at camera
Anne Connor, Chief Executive, Outside the Box

In this article, Anne Connor - Chief Executive of Out of the Box - tells us about their work to find out how rural communities can work well for older people.

What does a rural community that works well for older people look and feel like?

Outside the Box is working with Volunteering Matters Cymru and the National Development Team for Inclusion to find out how rural communities can work well for older people.

Why we are doing this work

There is a growing movement around making urban areas work well for older people. It is happening in most parts of the world where there is an ageing population. There are UK-wide and international networks through which people share their learning and experience: one example is the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Cities initiative.

Many rural communities in Scotland - and in many other places - have higher proportions of people aged over 65. It seems reasonable to expect that these communities work well for older residents. Do they? If so, how do they do it? Can other places learn from the communities that are making it work well?

What people have told us

Last year we talked to older people about what a community that worked well for them looked and felt like. This is what a good life means for people across Scotland:

  • Control of your own life
  • Having people around us who know us
  • Keeping up our interests and friendships
  • Access to good support services when we need them
  • Getting out of the house
  • Physical environments and practical things that work for us
  • Using the experience from your life to benefit yourself and others
  • Being part of your community, not just living in it

"It’s how we see the world. That’s the starting point. It is people claiming the right to be positive and make a contribution, however old or frail we are."

Some issues were the same for people living in towns and rural areas, while others were bigger problems in rural areas. There also were different solutions in rural areas.

What we are doing

We have a development grant from the Big Lottery Fund to find out what is happening and what issues people want to take forward. The aim is that by autumn 2016 we can agree a funding package for a 4-5 year development programme.

This would have:

  • Community development work in several areas in Scotland and Wales
  • More opportunities for people to share what they are doing
  • Links with the policy initiatives for sustainable rural communities as well as on effective support for older people and development of public services

How you can help

  • What are your experiences: what makes a community work well for older people, and what are the challenges?
  • Have you examples of ways people in rural areas are making things work well for older people?
  • Can you host conversations that bring together older people in your area as part of the development stage?
  • Are you are interested in becoming a site for the potential future development work?

Please get in touch with Anne Connor or Ruth Cape if you want more information or can help us.

Contact details