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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

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.


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