Over the past year the Age Action Alliance theme “Valuing the Contribution of Older People” has longed to draw together the expertise, skills and experience of it’s members to advance their individual goals and shake up attitudes towards ageing in general.
An opportunity arose earlier this year when The London Borough of Southwark commissioned The Centre for Policy on Ageing (CPA), to deliver a workshop to “kick start” their programme of “community conversations” to create an Age Friendly Borough. CPA wanted to offer a provocative and joyful workshop so invited those in the AAA theme to collaborate in design and delivery.
The purpose of the workshop was to:
- Consider adoption of an approach that looks beyond the current cohort of older people
- Examine how we can encourage a life course approach to ageing
- Identify the range of contributors to creating an age friendly borough
- Ask how we can develop an all age perspective that includes the needs of people who work in and visit the borough as well as those who live here
- Develop a framework for the conversation by identifying its purpose and scope.
To maximise participation in the design process from a range of AAA organisations, we considered the workshop design at an AAA session in early August, and offered a telephone conference call session prior to the workshop itself. We sought to “check and challenge” our thinking together to assist Southwark.
The Workshop took place on 21st September 2015 at Surrey Docks Farm. More than thirty people came from a wide range of council departments, disciplines and organisations in Southwark to envision a “holistic” All-Age Friendly Southwark of the future.
In all, over a dozen members of the AAA theme contributed to the design as well as seven attending and participating on the day. The role of these seven was to participate in the discussion as “critical friends” and at times “provocateurs”. Many of those in the AAA group are self employed or run very small social ventures. To honour the cost of participating when an employer doesn’t pay you for it, all those who contributed could claim a London Living Wage (£9.18) for the hours they contributed. The passion and enthusiasm to collaborate and contribute has been truly great and we now have a small financial contribution to the AAA theme as a result.
We will be reviewing our learning from this collaborative venture and consider what possibilities and opportunities there are for the future.
Comments from Southwark:-
“In a challenging local authority climate what was important was to acknowledge that we can’t be experts in everything and bringing people who are, into the frame brought real value to understanding of what needs to be done to achieve (our objectives) and point to the places we should look for information, advice and ideas. We feel more connected as a consequence.
What was valued about working with the CPA and AAA is they remained clear that they weren’t here to tell us our job or what we should do, but support those of us working on and with a stake in this project to identify what we should consider when planning the work.
The workshop they facilitated also showed us how we could use different tools to facilitate the conversations we might want to have with people in Southwark so much better than “telling”.
The use of a planning workshop has also enabled us to get considerable cross service buy in to the work we will be doing on the age friendly programme which will help us deliver comprehensive engagement and also very early buy in and inclusion of key stakeholders.”
The Centre for Policy on Ageing