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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Older people must be celebrated as a positive force for social change

30 March 2015

A public debate hosted by the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) called for cities and communities to acknowledge the potential of an older population and value their role.

Speaking at ‘The future of age-friendly cities’ on 17 March, MICRA Executive Director Professor Chris Phillipson argued that society has retained negative and outdated stereotypes of old age and needs to develop a new language for longevity around what an extended lifecourse means.

The Q&A evening run in with Age UK and Manchester City Council called for older people to be celebrated as a positive force for social change, and to be co-producers in designing the delivery of services and resources.  Panellists Paul McGarry (Manchester City Council), Bernadette Ashcroft (Age UK) and Professor Rachel Cooper (lead expert group Government Foresight Research Project) were joined by an audience of over a hundred including community groups, local government, the NHS, older people and researchers. 

In 2010 Manchester became the UK’s first age-friendly city, adopting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) age-friendly policy framework which aims to improve the lives of older people by listening to the voice of older people. ‘Everyone has a role to play, from shops to transport providers’ said Paul McGarry, Age-friendly Manchester Programme Lead.  Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Sue Cooley chaired the session, in February 2015 she launched the Age-friendly Manchester challenge to organisations, residents and companies to pledge action to make the city more age-friendly.

Discussion focused on how to use the resources of cities to improve life in older age over the next 25 years, with transport and access the top issues. Contributors highlighted the opportunity to design cities with older people in mind by creating new mechanisms for involving older people in urban planning and design. There were calls for a national ageing strategy to develop joined up policy across government.

Input from the evening’s discussion is being fed into ongoing policy dialogue between MICRA, Age UK, Manchester City Council and various government bodies.

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