Merseyside lacks confidence to tackle elderly isolation

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Nearly a third of people in Merseyside lack the confidence to tackle the isolation of elderly people in their community.

More than two thirds (71 percent) would like to help with the issue but almost a third (29 percent) do not have the confidence to do so, a survey for innovation foundation Nesta shows.

The survey comes as Nesta and the Cabinet Office encourage organisations to submit ideas to the Ageing Well Challenge that bring people together in new ways to combat this pressing social concern.

Although 19 percent of people in Merseyside are already trying to reduce the isolation of elderly people, 41 percent of respondents said that they would like to help but don’t know how. A further 12 per cent said that they have ideas which they have not yet put into action.

Emma Soames from Saga Magazine said:

“Tackling social isolation is enormously important in helping older people to maintain their quality of life. There must be some great ideas out there for tackling it and this is a great opportunity to make a brilliant idea happen.”

The Ageing Well challenge, which is run by Nesta’s Centre for Challenge Prizes and funded by the Cabinet Office, seeks ideas to reduce the isolation and increase the mobility of vulnerable older people, by creating new opportunities for people to give time, skills and resources.

The deadline to submit ideas to the Ageing Well challenge is 14 September 2012 and application is via

Vicki Purewal, Head of the Centre for Challenge Prizes, Nesta, said:

“It is clear that communities have the ideas, skills and the passion to help reduce isolation in old age, but sometimes we all need motivation and help to get ideas off of the ground and a boost in confidence. This is why we have launched the Ageing Well challenge prize.

“Elderly isolation is a growing issue with research from organisations such as The Campaign to End Loneliness showing that elderly feel trapped and alone. We want people to submit new ideas that have the potential to reduce isolation and increase mobility of elderly by tapping into collective skills and resources of neighbours, family, peers, organisations and businesses.”

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:

“It’s very encouraging how many people would like to help reduce loneliness in our communities. Through this Challenge Prize we are looking to support great new ideas that will make it easier for more people to get involved and make a positive difference.”

Less than a quarter (24 percent) of people in Merseyside volunteered for community action projects in the last year, yet more than a third (39 percent) plan to in the next year.

 In the survey, people overwhelmingly called for community spirit, social groups, community living, good transport and strong relationships with family and friends of all generations when asked what they wished for to help combat isolation and lack of mobility among elderly people.

The Ageing Well challenge prize will reward innovative approaches that take these and other areas affecting isolation into consideration.

Twenty-five entries to the Ageing Well challenge will be shortlisted and given the support and opportunity to develop a detailed plan for their idea. Five concepts with the potential for sustainability and scale will then each receive up to £10,000 and professional advice to set up and test their projects.

The idea that is proving most effective at reducing isolation, and has the potential to be even more effective in the future, will be selected in September 2013 and will be awarded £50,000.

Entry is via online application at and the deadline is noon on 14 September 2012.

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