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An Age Friendly Coventry

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Age Friendly Coventry Governance Board Meeting

16 March 2018 Age Friendly Coventry Logo

Following the launch of the Age Friendly Coventry (AFC) Programme in 2015 a formal Governance Board was established under the title of ‘Ageing Well in Mind and Body Board’. Its purpose was to provide strategic leadership and to oversee and manage the decision making process in enabling Coventry to promote active ageing as enshrined in the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age Friendly Cities.

The Coventry Board was made up of representation from the three lead partner organisations who would seek to ensure continued support and progress of the Project, namely the Public Health Department of the City Council, Age UK Coventry and Coventry University along with Kam Kaur, the Transformation Manager for the AFC Project. It was also agreed that Coventry Older Voices would have two representatives on the Board.

So three years on, what is happening now In terms of the Governance Board? Meetings are few and far between. Although they were originally planned to take place every two months there have only been four in the last two years and are very poorly attended. COV’s representatives have always been there as have those from Age UK Coventry and Coventry University along with the programme manager, Kam Kaur. However the chairing of meetings by Coventry City Council has been problematic and lacking in continuity with a number of people undertaking the role.

Much to COV’s surprise a Governance Board meeting was called for 30th January 2018 which Bridget Harper and Val Cawley attended. Once again attendance was disappointing with only seven members present. Councillor Faye Abbott was due to chair the meeting, but unfortunately at the last minute was unable to do so. Other attendees were Michael Garrett (CEO Age UK Coventry), and representatives from Grapevine, the Council’s Public Health Department, Coventry University and Kam Kaur.

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Coventry Life Festival

07 May 2017

Coventry Life Festival Logo

Here is some advance news of an event taking place in the Autumn, which is now being planned as part of the Age Friendly Coventry (AFC) project. Because it’s still some way off, details are a bit sketchy, but it certainly appears to be something to interest COV members.

AFC have obtained finance to put on the festival, the aims of which include promoting active and healthy ageing, and helping to close the gap between generations.

It's scheduled to take place on Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd October 2017, at a venue yet to be finalised. The Belgrade Theatre and Coventry Cathedral have been suggested, but the most likely option at the moment seems to be the Fargo Village (in Far Gosford Street).

Here are some of the ideas that are under consideration:

We wish the organisers the best of luck in this project, and we look forward to learning more about it, and of course taking part.

Update - More Details on the Festival

06 August 2017

We now know that the Festival will take place at Fargo Village, in Far Gosford Street.

Sunday 1st October will be a day for the public, featuring a variety of activities including exercise classes, inspirational talks, dance workshops and much more. Events take place between 11am and 4pm.

Monday 2nd October will be a day for professionals with talks from experts and discussions on how to support older people in the city.


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Walkability Audit – The Results

24 November 2016

An investigation into how easy it is to get about in the City centre has been carried out, with the help of COV members, by the transport consultants Steer Davies Gleave. (See the article below entitled “COV Members Take Part in Walkability Audit”). A report has now been produced, and this article presents a summary of some of the main points.

Photo of street furniture blocking pavement

The participants looked at the following aspects of the City centre, and considered whether or not they were age-friendly: benches, street furniture (such as advertising boards and waste bins), walking surfaces, pedestrian crossings, slopes and public toilets.

The locations of particularly good and bad instances of each of the above were recorded on a map. For example, the paths in Spon Street were praised as being in good condition, while the cobblestones around the Cathedral area were considered to make walking more difficult.

The suitability of outdoor seating was found to be very variable. Those that were praised were at a reasonable height (in particular, not too low), were made of a sensible material (not concrete!), and had backrests and armrests and a seat that was not sloping. Quite a few fell short of these requirements. It was also pointed out that most of the benches within the City Centre do not offer protection from the elements.

Photo of paving in Broadgate

The shortage of public toilets in some key areas of the City was noted, as was the unsatisfactory condition of those in Pool Meadow bus station.

The audit also highlighted some places where increased maintenance was needed to reduce the potential for slips, trips, and falls, particularly by older people.

The report concluded that in general, Coventry is a very walkable City, but that mapping key features for older people would help to improve their experience and increase accessibility. The information gained will be incorporated into the digital wayfinding ‘totems’ located throughout the City Centre.

At the moment, it is not clear whether copies of the report will be available to the public, but we will make enquiries and let you know.
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COV Members Take Part in Walkability Audit

29 August 2016

Cartoon drawing of fat man walking

The Walkability Audit is a project initiated by Age-Friendly Coventry, which aims to assess how easy it is to travel on foot in and around the City Centre. It will be of interest to older people in particular, and will look at aspects of walkability such as:

The information that it uncovers will be made available to the public, by means of a “Walkability Guide”, and on the electronic information totems in the City centre. (Editor's note: Yes, we know there are problems with these. We'll look into it and keep you posted).

The project is headed by Coventry University, employing a firm of transport consultants (Steer Davis Gleave), with a group of volunteers (including members of COV) doing test walks. Kate Brown, Val Cawley and Gaile Allen, all members of the COV steering committee, have taken part in the walks, and Kate told us that some of the things they recorded were:

The availability of public toilets is not one of the issues that this project addresses. However, it is certainly an issue that concerns COV, and our volunteers noted that the closure of the Priory Visitor Centre means a further reduction in provision. They also remarked that disabled access to the toilets between the New and Old Cathedrals was via a very circuitous route.

COV members were very happy to contribute towards this project, and we now look forward to the publication of the results. We will of course keep you informed.
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Age-Friendly Coventry Initiatives

14 July 2016

The previous article on Age-Friendly Coventry discussed some of the problems encountered by the programme, but promised to provide some details of what it was achieving.

So on a much more positive note, there follow descriptions of some (but not all) of the projects now underway, or recently completed, by Age-Friendly Coventry and its partners.

Seldom Heard Voices

This project led by Age UK Coventry made a successful application for small scale funding from the Department of Health and Public Health England.

Read more...

iPad Cafes/Gen 2 Gen

The Herbert Art Gallery have worked with student volunteers to deliver iPad taster sessions to members of Age UK Coventry friendship groups in public libraries.

Read more...

Older Peoples Gym/Physical Activity Study

Coventry University are piloting an older people’s gym, with a range of equipment kitted out in the Alma Building, Alma Street, to be used for exercises that benefit and appeal to older people.

Read more...

Walkability Audit and Fab Lab Build a Bench Project

A “walkability” audit of the City Centre is to be carried out, to identify the location of public benches and Age-Friendly features such as ramps and rails on key walking routes.

Read more...

Awaken the Arts Sessions

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum has piloted free “Awaken the Arts” sessions, designed specifically for people with dementia, and their carers, friends or partners to enjoy together.

Read more...

Good Neighbours

A good neighbours scheme has been developed, in partnership with Age UK Coventry and Coventry Churches, to increase supportive one-to-one contact with the most isolated older people.

Read more...

Mapping of Local Social Groups

Age UK Coventry have mapped local social activities by neighbourhood geographical area.

Read more...

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Transport Workshop Disappointment

22 June 2016

The Transport Workshop, organised by Coventry University, took place over two days (14th and 15th June) at the Herbert Art Gallery. Regrettably (despite being advertised on this website!) it attracted very few older people (but lots of academics and consultants). In the view of some COV members that did attend, this defeated the purpose of the exercise.

They also said that there were no lunch breaks between workshops, and “little sensitivity of older people’s needs”. The central theme of transport to hospitals and health services, they said, was not adhered to, but was lost in discussion of public transport in general.

We are sorry if you went along and were disappointed. However, we still strongly support the Age-Friendly Coventry programme, believe that the vast majority of its initiatives are very worthwhile, and would encourage you to take part if you can.

You may of course disagree entirely with the opinions expressed here, and may take a much more positive view of these workshops. If this is the case, then please do let us know, and we will report your views accordingly.

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Age Friendly Coventry – after 18 Months

03 May 2016

COV logo - three spires on a blue background, and the words 'Age-friendly Coventry'

In our last report on the Age-Friendly Coventry (AFC) initiative (13th April) we expressed our disappointment at the poor attendance at meetings of the participants. The programme manager, Kam Kaur, kindly offered to speak to the COV steering committee to address our concerns, at a meeting on 26th May. In this article we will voice our views on AFC’s progress. Please note that they are indeed our opinions, and are not necessarily shared by Kam Kaur or the organisations funding AFC (Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Age UK Coventry).

The first stage of the project was all about identifying the issues to be tackled. This involved researching the views of everyone who had an interest in making Coventry a better place for older people to live, or who could play a part in bringing this about. In particular, it meant getting the opinions of older people themselves. COV played a significant role in this exercise, and many members attended public meetings and workshops to identify the actions that were needed, and to prioritise them.

In our opinion this went very well, and as a result a comprehensive list of areas where action could be taken to improve the lot of older people was drawn up, ranging from upgrading street lighting to providing more community events. As it would not be possible to address all of the issues at once, they were prioritized to match the results of the public consultations, and “Theme Groups” were set up to deal with the areas of Transport, Social Participation, and Communication & Information. So far so good ...

The membership of each theme group was established, and included businessmen, Council employees, and service providers (such as the NHS and transport organisations), and COV representatives. An overall governing body to oversee the project (with the not-so-snappy name of the “Ageing Well in Mind and Body Board”) was set up. Each theme group drew up an “action plan”, based on the outcomes of the previous consultation events.

The action plans themselves consisted of practical initiatives, such as providing arts and craft activities for older people, and improving transport so that people were able to attend them. An attempt was made to identify people to take part in these initiatives, and people to lead them.

For the most part these individuals would have to commit themselves to AFC work in addition to their normal activities. This seems to have been only partly successful. Some initiatives have indeed gone ahead and have achieved or are achieving positive outcomes. We will bring you further details of some of these shortly. However, in several instances, individuals or organisations have not been able to fulfil the commitments they made. Hence the poor attendance of meetings, and the lack of progress of the initiatives.

This is indeed disappointing, especially in view of the commitment and determination of some of those involved, in particular Kam Kaur, the project manager. However, it would seem that a new approach is now called for.

Until now there has been considerable reliance on participants contributing time and energy to AFC in addition to their normal duties. This appears to have been over-optimistic, and it is now thought that paid project workers are needed. These of course cost money, which is not easy to come by in times of austerity, so Kam will be focusing her attention on attempting to raise the profile of the project and applying for funding. This will of course mean she has less time to devote to managing individual initiatives, and it may result in fewer of them coming to fruition, but this is unavoidable. Moreover, there will be an increased emphasis on initiatives aiming to improve health and social care, and to prevent problems in these areas.

All-in-all this is a significant re-think - less ambitious in scope but perhaps more realistic and practical. We wish Kam Kaur (and all the AFC participants) well. We believe this is a project well worth persevering with, and appreciate that it is not easy with the limited resources available. COV will continue to provide support wherever we can.

Don’t forget - there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to the work of COV and/or AFC. If you want to be involved, then do get in touch via the Contact Us page.
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Age-Friendly Coventry Theme Group Meetings

13 April 2016

COV has representatives on the three “Theme Groups” of the Age-Friendly Coventry programme, who report on progress at meetings of the Steering Committee.

The last meeting of the Transport Theme Group was said to be poorly attended, although those that did attend held an interesting and useful dialogue. Matters discussed included:

Our representative informed us that Communications Theme Group meetings tended to be poorly attended, and that the last meeting had been suspended.

The last meeting of the Social Participation Theme Group had also been cancelled.

The next meeting of the “Ageing Well in Mind and Body” board, which oversees the Age-Friendly Coventry Programme, has been put back six weeks – without explanation.

All of this is obviously very disappointing. We will attempt to find the reasons for the delays and cancellations, and will keep you informed. It should be stressed, however, that although COV is a collaborator/contributor in the Age-Friendly Coventry programme, we are an independent organisation, and our activities continue as normal.

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Age-Friendly Businesses

19 March 2016

The way businesses behave towards older people can have a significant effect on our quality of life. As one of COV’s contributions to the Age Friendly Coventry programme, some of its members are planning a business evaluation and award scheme. Full details are still to be worked out, because the project is still at an early stage. But to a large extent it will depend on the people we can involve - both in terms of numbers, and the ideas they contribute.

At its most ambitious, a wide range of businesses could be awarded “stars”, as in existing schemes for hotels, restaurants, etc., but with an emphasis on the needs of older people. This would involve a lot of time and effort, and is unlikely to be possible in the short term. It is probably more realistic to start with an “Age-Friendly Business of the Month” award, and to expand the scope as we learn from experience.

It is also probably a good idea to start with particular types of businesses – such as retailers, or to focus even more closely - on pharmacists for instance. But your ideas on this, as with all aspects of the scheme, are very welcome.

If you would like to take part, then this is your opportunity to contribute to making Coventry a more age-friendly place to live.

The sorts of things that will need to be done include:

Cartoon drawing of an angry old lady There’s a widespread view that older people complain too much. We see this as a chance to do more than complain – and perhaps to improve our image! Our plan is to take positive action to encourage businesses to improve their age–friendliness, and to reward those who do.

If you would like to join us, or would just to let us know what you think about our ideas, do get in touch. You can email or write to us using the Contact Us page.
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Bags of Help for an Age Friendly Coventry

18 March 2016

Bags of Help Logo

Age Friendly Coventry have made a successful bid for funding from Tesco for the installation of benches in the City Centre.

Tesco’s “Bags of Help” initiative offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The scheme is described in detail on Tesco's site.

Age Friendly Coventry will receive £8,000.
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Action Plans for An Age Friendly Coventry

11 November 2015

The previous article on the Age Friendly Coventry initiative (22 July 2015) reported on how the needs and aims of older people in Coventry had been researched, and that “theme groups” had been set up to tackle the issues identified. It was decided to concentrate initially on three themes: Social Participation, Communication and Information, and Transport.

The first two of these groups have met twice, and each has drawn up a draft “action plan”. These are quite lengthy and detailed, so just a few items of interest have been selected from each one and are shown below. At this stage, they contain ideas rather than concrete plans, and it cannot be guaranteed that all them will come to fruition.

At the time of writing, the Transport theme group had met, but had not produced an action plan.

Extracts from the Social Participation Theme Group Action Plan:

Initiative: City centre seating and toilets.
Details: “Interactive wayfinding totems” (electronic information points) are to be installed in the City centre, which will include information on the nearest seating and public toilets.
Lead: COV.

Initiative: Visual art project for people with dementia and their partners / family carers.
Details: Pilot event.
Lead: Herbert Museum and Art Gallery.

Initiative: Locally based good neighbours scheme.
Details: The aims are to increase supportive one-to-one contact with the most isolated older people, to raise awareness of local activities, and to support and encourage more people to join in.
Leads: Coventry Churches and Age UK Coventry.

Initiative: Schools project.
Details: Linking older people and older people’s groups with schools for one-off events or regular volunteering.
Lead: Retired Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP).

Extracts from the Communication and Information Theme Group Action Plan:

Initiative: Encouraging retail businesses to introduce a more age friendly environment.
Details: Develop and introduce an age friendly business scheme which provides an age friendly kite mark for those that meet the criteria of the scheme.
Lead: City Centre Manager, Coventry City Council.

Initiative: Improve access to information technology and support.
Details: An “Ipad Café”, at which older people could bring in their electronic tablets, smartphones, etc. for advice and support.
Lead: Age UK Coventry / Libraries.

Initiative: Raise awareness of active ageing.
Details: Develop a training course which is delivered to organisations to promote active ageing to their older workforce as part of retirement planning.
Lead: To be appointed.

Initiative: Develop the Age Friendly Website.
Details: A basic version is now online (http://www.coventry.gov.uk/agefriendlycoventry) which needs further development.
Lead: Age Friendly Coventry project manager.

Initiative: Update and develop the Older People’s Guide.
Details: This is a centralised information booklet, listing services and resources available for older people, which will be based on a similar publication produced by Age UK Coventry in 2013.
Lead: Age UK Coventry.

Comments:

In the opinion of the COV representatives on the board that oversees the Age Friendly Coventry project, it is a worthwhile and commendable undertaking. The participants are enthusiastic and sincere, and we believe it will produce concrete results.

It does seem to be taking a long time to get going – and it is disappointing that the Transport theme group has yet to submit an action plan. However, the World Health Organisation (which devised and oversees the Age Friendly Cities scheme) says that planning should take two years. Coventry is ahead of that schedule, and we think the pace will pick up in the New Year.

We will of course keep you informed of further developments.
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An Age Friendly Coventry - Where Are We Now?

22 July 2015

It is about a year since we first reported on this project, so here is a summary of what has happened so far:

The Social participation group has already had its first meeting, which included representatives from Coventry City Council, Whitefriars Housing, Orbit Homes, West Midlands Fire Service, Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, Coventry University, Age UK Coventry, CVSC (Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme), the Belgrade Theatre, and (last but not least), COV! As it was the first meeting, much of the time was taken up with organisational matters, but some practical ideas were discussed briefly. These included the provision of “walking maps”, and more seating and public toilets in the City centre. It was also agreed there were already some opportunities for social participation of which older people were often unaware, and which needed to be publicised.

The Communication and Information group has also met – but too recently for a report to be available, and the Transport group will meet shortly.
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An Age Friendly City Workshop

10 June 2015

COV members were invited to participate in a workshop on 12th May, at the Welcome Centre in Parkside, to look at problems and solutions in three particular areas:

Bridget Harper went along, and sent us the following report:

I left home allowing plenty of time to arrive at the Welcome Centre for the start of the Workshop at 10.00am - no such luck! The scheduled bus on the route into Town failed to arrive and the next one somehow absorbed double the load slowing everyone down. The general chaos around the Belgrade Plaza development delayed me further arriving at the Centre 15 minutes late. Catching the tail end of Kam Kaur’s introduction I sneaked in like a late cinema goer after the film had started and sensed the silent disapproval of the seventy or so fellow participants.

From the research undertaken on the Age Friendly initiative so far eight main themes have been identified. This workshop event focused on the three priority areas of Transportation, Social participation and Communication and information. We moved straight into our allocated groups each with a group leader.

There was a great deal of sharing and storytelling which was in itself both interesting and energising. Although problems were highlighted we were encouraged to be positive and put forward solutions. Sometimes just a small change can have a real impact on the quality of life of older people in our communities.

It might seem that we are only beginning the journey but for many older people, like myself, history is a rich tapestry. There are many examples in our City of how in spite of adversity progress has been made, our Champion Godiva for one. However the AFC initiative is about making Coventry a better place for the present and the future both for those of us who are older now and for those who will be in the future.

The Group activity generated many ideas/solutions and in reality not everything is possible immediately. The wheels of bureaucracy move slowly and there are serious budget restraints. For this to be more than just a paper exercise It is essential that decision makers, service providers, voluntary and community sectors sit round the same ‘kitchen table’. Real change comes from commitment, a willingness to listen and respect others, particularly older people themselves.
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COV Members Join Board

15 April 2015

The body that oversees the Age Friendly Cities programme on behalf of the three sponsors (Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Age UK Coventry) is known as the "Ageing Well in Mind and Body Board" (AWMBB). COV has accepted the kind invitation for two of its members to join the board, to represent the views of its wider membership, and of older people in Coventry.

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An Age Friendly Coventry - Stakeholder Event

26 February 2015
photograph of Kam Kaur
Kam Kaur
Coventry’s plan to become an Age Friendly City (as reported in an earlier article on this website (20 June 2014) is progressing apace. The sponsors (Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Age UK Coventry) have appointed a manager, Kam Kaur, to lead the programme and to advance its aims. Kam lost no time in organising an “Age Friendly Stakeholder Engagement Event” at the Welcome Centre, in Parkside on 15th December 2014.

Participants included representatives from the business, public, voluntary and community sectors. Members of COV were invited, and contributed to lively discussions on what makes an Age Friendly City, and how Coventry can move towards becoming increasingly age friendly. Speakers included:

Kam Kaur (Age Friendly Transformation Manager).
Councillor Alison Gingell (Cabinet Lead for Health and Adult Services & Chair of the Coventry Health & Wellbeing Board, Coventry City Council).
Michael Vincent (Chief Executive Officer, Age UK Coventry).
Professor Guy Daly (Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University.
A more detailed description of the meeting can be found here.
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Age Friendly Cities

20 June 2014

Coventry City Council are partnering with Age UK Coventry and Coventry University as part of a World Health Organisation initiative to make cities more age-friendly.

The partnership between organisations has appointed a jointly-funded Programme Officer to oversee the delivery of the project’s aims.

By becoming an Age Friendly city, Coventry will work to promote the opportunities available to improve health, participation and security as people age, thereby increasing quality of life for all residents. The Age Friendly initiative will build upon work that is already in place and on-going across the city, including the Older People’s Wellness Strategy, the Marmot Work Programme and the Dementia Strategy.

Cllr Alison Gingell, Coventry City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Services, welcomed the initiative, saying:

Photo of Councillor Alison Gingell “We already have lots of fantastic work going on throughout our city and our partner organisations, but the joint funding of a Programme Officer will enable these strands to be tied together to create a city that is officially recognised as Age Friendly. It is important that we acknowledge the impact that older people have on all of our lives, and the significant contribution that they make to our city. We need to continue our work to make our spaces more accessible, our streets safer and our communities kinder. This can only be achieved by working in partnership across the public, private and voluntary sector. I’m incredibly pleased that Age UK Coventry and Coventry University are working alongside us.”

Dr Christine Broughan from Coventry University, said:

Photo of Dr Christine Broughan
“With the number of older people in Coventry set to rise over the next 20 years we need to stimulate radical changes in our traditional attitudes and approaches towards them. We are working closely with the City Council, Age UK Coventry and other agencies to make age friendly living a priority in the city.”
Michael Vincent, Chief Executive of Age UK Coventry, said:
Photo of Michael Vincent “Our older citizens deserve the best possible quality of life and this exciting Age Friendly City Partnership Programme is designed to help achieve this, so that we and future generations can all love later life here in Coventry.”

Follow this link for more about the Age Friendly Cities programme.

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