The coronavirus pandemic has raised urgent questions for older people living in cities.
The Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group (MUARG) has been drawing on its research interests and expertise to respond to some of the questions through a series of written pieces for various blogs, academic papers and new qualitative research.
Primarily, the group is concerned with how COVID-19 may deepen existing inequalities for older people who are already experiencing social exclusion and isolation. Also, how it may further disadvantage the most deprived communities in our cities.
'The lived experiences of older people during COVID-19: examining inequalities in Greater Manchester'
MUARG is carrying out new research to assess the challenges facing older people in the context of COVID-19, examining the support provided by neighbourhood-based organisations and community activists. Along with the potential issues experienced by older people at risk of social isolation.
The project takes a longitudinal approach to assess the impact of the pandemic on older people over time and involves telephone interviews with people aged 50 and over, drawn from a range of marginalised groups. More specifically, it includes older people who are at risk of social exclusion: either because of their individual characteristics and/or because of the neighbourhoods in which they live.
The group views this work as particularly pressing given the context in which COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on low income and BAME communities. Which has already been affected by cuts to public services, the loss of social infrastructure, and pressures on the voluntary sector.
This research started in April 2020 and an interim report containing initial findings will be published here in Autumn.
- To work with community organisations and activists, examining responses to COVID-19 and strategies for contacting and supporting older people. The organisations and individuals approached will include a cross-section of different groups, working across a range of neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester.
- To examine the impact of social distancing measures on experiences of everyday life among older people from marginalised communities.
- To contribute to the evidence that assists local, regional, and national policies which aim to increase support for older people and organisations working on their behalf.
The project takes a longitudinal approach to assess the impact of the pandemic on older people over time. It involves telephone interviews with people aged 50 and over, drawn from a range of marginalised groups.
More specifically, it includes older people who are at risk of social exclusion. Either because of their individual characteristics and/or because of the neighbourhood in which they live.
This research is jointly funded by Age-Friendly Manchester, Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO), and the Centre for Ageing Better.
The research is being carried out by:
- Dr Tine Buffel
- Dr Patty Doran
- Dr Mhorag Geoff
- Dr Camilla Lewis
- Dr Luciana Lang
- Prof Chris Phillipson
- Dr Sophie Yarker
In collaboration with Manchester BME Network, Ethnic Health Forum, Kashmiri Youth Project, GMCVO, and the LGBT Foundation.
For further information contact Professor Chris Phillipson and Dr Sophie Yarker.
- COVID-19: bringing the social back in, published on the Association for Anthropology, Gerontology and Life Course AAGE website.
- COVID-19: how social distancing will deepen inequalities among older people, published on the Centre for Ageing Better website.
- Prisoners of space: how the COVID-19 lockdown highlights inequalities in ageing, published on the Discover Society website.
- Examining the impact of social distancing on older adults, published on the Policy@Manchester website.
- Support and exclusion for older adults during COVID-19: is the neighbourhood always best placed?, published on the Geography Directions website.
- Locked down by inequality: why place matters for older people during COVID-19, published on the Policy@Manchester website.
- The voluntary and community sector and COVID-19: going to war without ammunition?, published on Policy@Manchester website.
We have been involved in a range of projects over the past two decades, developing innovative research on the lives of older people living in areas of multiple deprivations.
This work began in the early-2000s, examining issues relating to:
- social exclusion (Scharf et al., 2002), and has been extended with research on co-production methods (Buffel, 2015);
- age-friendly cities (Buffel, Handler and Phillipson, 2018);
- urban regeneration (Lewis et al., 2020);
- social infrastructure (Yarker, 2019);
- community interventions to promote ‘ageing in place’ (Goff et al., 2020);
- comparative studies of exclusion in European cities (Buffel et al., forthcoming).
Much of this research has been conducted in partnership with older people who live in lower-income neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester (and other cities in Europe), in partnership with local authorities, voluntary organisations, and community groups.
Many of the participants have been experiencing various forms of social exclusion and isolation. These are the people most likely to be disadvantaged by social distancing measures implemented to combat COVID-19 and may be among the most difficult to reach in terms of providing support.
Existing resources by the group
- Buffel, T., Handler, S. and Phillipson, C. (eds) (2018) Age-Friendly Communities: A Global Perspective. Bristol: Policy Press.
- Buffel, T. and Phillipson, C. (2018) ‘A Manifesto for the Age-Friendly Movement: Developing a New Urban Agenda’. Journal of Aging & Social Policy 30 (2) pp.173-192.
- Prattley, J., Buffel, T., Marshall, A., and Nazroo, J. (2020) ‘Area effects on the level and development of social exclusion in later life’. Social Science & Medicine 246.
- Buffel, T. (2018) ‘Social research and co-production with older people: Developing age-friendly communities’. Journal of Aging Studies 44 pp. 52-60.
- Buffel, T., and Phillipson, T. (2019) ‘Aging in a Gentrifying Neighborhoods: Experiences of Community Change in Later Life’. Sociology 1-18.
- Goff, M., Doran, P., Phillipson, C., and D’Andreta, D. (2020) Community Interventions to Promote ‘Ageing in Place’: Developing the ‘village’ model in Manchester. Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing.
- Cotterell, N., Buffel, T., and Phillipson, C. ( 2018) ‘Preventing Social Isolation in Older People’. Maturitas
- Yarker, S. (2019) Social Infrastructure: how shared spaces make communities work. Report for Ambition for Ageing.
- Yarker., S (2020) Use of Information and Communication Technologies to support social connections for older people. Report for Ambition for Ageing.
- Lewis, C., and Cotterell, N. (2018) Social Isolation and Older People, Asian and Minority Ethnic People in Greater Manchester. A report for Ambition for Ageing: Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing.
- Lewis, C., Hammond, M, Kavanagh, N., Phillipson, C., and Yarker, S. (2020) Developing age-friendly communities in the Northern Gateway urban regeneration project. Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing.