Why are we doing this?
We need to create more ways for people to age well, be actively engaged and able to build stronger local networks and neighbourhoods. Research has shown that older people want to have a purpose, a sense of wellbeing and to feel at home and connected to others. There is a significant role for voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises to build solutions that address this demand.
These approaches to ageing innovation focus on the opportunities of an ageing society, such as:
- using the skills and energy of communities to provide a whole range of informal support, including peer support, to improve health and wellbeing
- building strong social networks and intergenerational models of support to increase resilience and reduce isolation
- creating a sense of opportunity as we enter the second half of life – a chance to connect with others and live more healthily
- developing models where people beyond mid-life are driving solutions and influencing and supporting others
The eight highly promising innovations that we are backing through Accelerating Ideas have a strong fit with these ambitions. They all have a promising evidence base, have people in the lead, have demonstrated the potential to deliver greater impact and have the capacity to deliver their plans. They are now ready to scale across the UK, adapt their approach to different national contexts and reach many more people.
What are we doing?
Nesta has received £5.48 million from Big Lottery Fund to support eight innovations to mobilise people and communities across the UK to address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population.
We worked with these organisations for over two years through the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund. Accelerating Ideas enables some of these organisations to be supported to further increase their contribution to increasing resilience, reducing isolation, and improving the engagement and influence of older people in the UK.
The Accelerating Ideas portfolio includes innovations focused on:
- Neighbourhood networks: Strong inter-generational friendships at the street and neighbourhood level can make a significant difference to older people’s lives - enabling them to feel supported and safe, enabling them to connect, have fun and give back to others and addressing low level needs such as shopping or fixing something at home (e.g. North London Cares, GoodGym).
- Volunteers to support older people: Local volunteers, including older volunteers, can make a great deal of difference to older people. High quality, structured volunteering schemes can train volunteers to respond at a time of particular need or at a point of transition, such as bereavement or leaving hospital (e.g. First Call - Support at Home, GoodSAM). Many of the volunteers in these solutions are older people themselves.
- Connecting people to make a difference: Very significant and deep levels of voluntary connections and mutual support can be created with the right approach. These relationships can be transformational and prove that connecting people together can be life-changing (e.g. Shared Lives for older people).
- Peer support to manage day-to-day: Older people are living with more long-term conditions, so managing their health on a day-to-day basis is a real concern of older people and their carers. Peer support groups connect older people together who share similar experiences and enable them to provide one another with valuable social and emotional support (e.g. Integrated Breathe Easy, National Volunteering Programme, Hand in Hand).