Community spirit high among UK’s older population…despite declining local services
New findings released today by older people’s charity, Anchor, show some fascinating insight into how grey-friendly the UK really is in 2012.
The survey firmly places older people at the heart of their local communities, with 80 per cent saying they feel part of where they live. Encouragingly, 84 per cent of over 65s feel that they are respected by local people and roughly the same number (83 per cent) say they know their neighbours’ names. With 91 per cent of the UK’s older population also saying their neighbours are friendly and helpful, it seems that the UK is embracing friendships across generations.
Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive at Anchor, said: “It’s great news that older people feel that community spirit is alive and well, and that so many older people also report that they know their neighbours. However, it’s worth remembering that loneliness remains a real issue for a significant number of older people and it can contribute to a range of health problems - from depression to poor diet and excessive drinking. These findings really drive home how important it is for us all to recognise the need to build and nurture relationships across generations.”
Keith Arscott, Chief Executive at Contact the Elderly, said: “It’s encouraging to see the positive results of the survey and to hear that many communities are supporting their older residents. However, we must also remember that even though many older people may know their neighbours’ names, they may not mix with them socially as much so it’s important for people to make time to talk to this generation and realise how much they have to offer the wider community. We are working with Anchor across England to increase awareness of our vital service and to encourage those who would benefit from our friendship groups to get in touch.”
While community spirit is flying high, the findings also flagged some areas of concern – with just under half (45 per cent) of all respondents saying they felt services for older people had declined in the last ten years. A third (33 per cent) went as far as saying services for older people in their area were ‘poor’ and more than a fifth (22 per cent) would not recommend their area as a good place for older people to live.
With services playing an important part in making a town grey-friendly and providing a base for activity where older people can have contact with a range of people, it is also worrying that 38 per cent of over 65s felt that their local council was not interested in the needs of older people. Even more (42 per cent) said their local council is not active in improving their area to cater for older people’s needs.
Jane Ashcroft said: “Today’s findings demonstrate a clear need for both local authorities and central government to raise their game when it comes to tackling the issues that impact older people. This is central to Anchor’s Grey Pride campaign which is calling for better representation for older people.”
Grey Priders - do you agree with these findings?
Do they reflect how you feel about your local area?
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