New environmental research to look at impact of green spaces on ageing populations

6 January 2017

University of Manchester Geographer Dr Sarah Lindley is leading a new research looking at the impact of green public spaces on the health and wellbeing of an ageing population.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from across three Greater Manchester universities were given the award by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the leading funder of independent research, training and innovation in environmental science in the UK.

Evidence shows that green infrastructure, including blue (water-based) and green public space, can, directly and indirectly, influence health and wellbeing. However, access to health and wellbeing benefits is not shared equally amongst the population, particularly in urban areas. People aged 65 and over are most likely to suffer from poor health, yet this group may be the least likely to benefit from green infrastructure.

The project aims to better understand the benefits and values of urban green infrastructure for older people and how green infrastructure and specific 'greening projects' can be best used to support healthy ageing in urban areas, using  Greater Manchester as a case-study area. Importantly, the project team will work with older people from across Greater Manchester as co-investigators in the research, as well as with partners and other academic and non-academic advisors. The team will involve older people as 'co-producers' of the research to better understand thoughts, experiences and values that are associated with spaces within the area. This will have a particular arts focus, including storytelling, sensory engagement and offering new experiences for engaging with such spaces.

A core part of the research will look at how the research findings can be translated into policy and practice and the transferability of findings to other cities. MICRA will support the dissemination of findings from this project, expected from 2019.


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