Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for February 2019

Doing Ageing Differently in Greater Manchester

Friday, 15 February 2019

This week, in my capacity as the Lead for Equalities and Age Friendly GM in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, I had the pleasure of opening and co-hosting the GM Age Friendly Conference alongside the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham at the Museum of Science and Industry. The second such event we’ve held in our city region, the day gave us an opportunity to come together and discuss progress and best practice in our mission to make our city region to best place in the world to grow old and be old in. Almost 350 people attended the event, representing a dizzying variety of local, national and global organisations and partners that have worked with us to make this a reality.

These included individuals from central government, the Centre for Ageing Better, the International Longevity Centre UK and the GM Older People’s Network. We even had people attending from as far away as Amsterdam, Oslo, Barcelona and New York. Their presence was a fantastic validation of the work we’ve done over the past few years, and I look forward to continuing our relationships with all of them as we go further still.

The reason we’re doing all this is simple. By 2037 we estimate that almost a fifth of Greater Manchester’s population will be over the age of 65. Moreover, on average a person aged 65 today has a very good chance of celebrating their 85th birthday and beyond. Not only are there going to be more people in Greater Manchester, but they’re almost certainly going to live longer as well.

Unfortunately, far too often we hear facts and figures like that presented like some kind of catastrophe. I’m sure you’ve heard the predictions; pensions not being paid, unsustainable pressures on health and social care, and phrases like “time bomb” and “perfect storm” being thrown about. I don’t agree with that view. This is an incredible opportunity to make sure that older people are welcomed fully into the social and economic life of our city region in a way that they aren’t always at the moment.

And we have backed those beliefs up with action. In March last year, Greater Manchester was recognised by the World Health Organisation as the UK’s first age-friendly city region.

We’ve established the GM Ageing Hub, bringing together local universities, service providers and residents to navigate the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population. Through the Centre for Ageing Better, we’ve worked to make sure that older people are in our thoughts when it comes to making decisions on employment, housing and planning. With support from a £1 million investment from Sport England, we also set up the Greater Manchester Active Ageing programme, encouraging older people to develop and sustain an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Neither have our efforts been restricted to the confines of Greater Manchester. With assistance from European Union funding, we have collaborated with a number of cities across Europe like Amsterdam, Oslo and Gothenburg, reaching out across borders to share our successes and build new and strong partnerships. The Conference itself also paid tribute to some the excellent work that has been done in Tameside. 32 neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester received commendations for what they’ve achieved in their local areas, and I was delighted to announce that Denton South, Ashton Waterloo, Mottram and Hyde Newton were among them.

Older people make a vital contribution to Greater Manchester, and can make an even bigger contribution still. That isn’t a narrative, it’s a fact. This week, we came together to find out what that meant. Next week, we start putting it into practice in our city region and beyond. Because this is an issue that, sooner or later, will directly affect us all. And because, in the words of one of our most famous sons, this is Manchester and we do things differently here.


Posted by: Executive Leader

It's Okay to Talk in Tameside

Friday, 08 February 2019

Nearly one in four teenage girls are suffering from mental illness, and half of them have either self-harmed or attempted suicide. Almost a fifth of young people between 16-25 years old disagree with the statement that they find life “really worth living”. 6.8% of boys and 4.2% of girls under the age of 5 are experiencing a medically-diagnosable mental disorder. Over half of all children and young people say they worry about at least one thing “all the time”. Every single one of those numbers go up even further if the young person being asked is LGBT or from a deprived background.

Those facts, gathered by a number of organisations including the NHS and the Prince’s Trust, indicate that we facing nothing less than a full-blown crisis in mental health among Britain’s young people. Politicians and medical experts have blamed everything from social media, difficult economic conditions for young people and even air pollution, but one thing they all agree on is that nowhere near enough has been done to identify mental health problems in children at an early stage, or to provide adequate treatment and support if it is required. Many young people at the moment are turned away because they are considered “not ill enough”, while others face waits of months or even years for basic therapy services.

This week, Tameside joined with a number of other councils, NHS organisations and charities to raise awareness of these issues during Children’s Mental Health Week. In the Hive on Katherine Street in Ashton, our local mental health charity Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind has created a “Time to Talk” table, encouraging people to open up and have positive conversations about how they’re feeling. A text, a walk or a simple “How are you?” can sometimes make a real difference. Remember that you don’t have to be a doctor to talk to people about mental health, and sometimes people will be more willing to confide in friends or other people they know.

We’ve also been talking about what we can do in Tameside to improve mental health treatment and support. On Monday, we held the first of our three annual Partnership Engagement Network Conferences in Hyde Town Hall. These conferences bring together representatives of organisations and the public to discuss how we can improve health and social care in Tameside and Glossop. This time we heard about how we’re trialling new approaches to mental health, tailored to fit the individual’s life circumstances, strengths and interests. Counselling service “Off the Record”, also in Hyde, is working closely with the Hattersley Group Practice to provide weekly drop-in sessions every Tuesday for any 10-25 year old in Hyde who needs support with their mental health. We’re also lobbying the government at every opportunity to improve funding and access for mental health services in the NHS, with a particular focus on young people.

In the meantime, there are a number of ways in which you can help improve your own mental health, regardless of how well or down you feel at the moment. As physical and mental health are closely linked, lifestyle choices like exercising, eating a healthy diet and drinking in moderation can help you both look and feel better. If you feel stressed out, try and take a break or do something you enjoy for a while. Even five minutes can be enough to take the edge off. And if you start thinking that nothing is working, reach out to a friend or a doctor and talk to them about your problems or contact the local Samaritans hotline on 0161 116 123.

For too long mental health has been the elephant in the room. That needs to change. Talking about suffering from anxiety or depression should be as ordinary as talking about suffering from a cold or flu. Thanks to the hard work of many medical professionals, charity workers and local residents, we’re closer to that point than we’ve ever been. Let’s keep going and make sure that it’s okay to talk in Tameside.


Posted by: Executive Leader

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