Last November Bristol was accepted as part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Network of Age Friendly Communities. This is thanks to the work of the Bristol Ageing Better partnership, the council and so many older Bristolians who have been involved as well as the lead of my cabinet colleague Helen Holland. This global network represents cities and communities across the world who are all committed to making their areas better and more inclusive for older people, which also has a positive impact on the community as a whole.
Bristol’s membership is a statement of our commitment to enable older people to feel safe, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society. Figures show there are between 6,300 and 11,400 older people who are socially isolated in Bristol. By working together with the Bristol Ageing Better partnership and our city partners, I want to tackle this and ensure our city becomes a better place for everyone to grow old in.
This ambition will require us to become a more closely connected society where people work together and support one another. I saw a great example of this in action when I visited Avonmouth Community Centre yesterday to attend their weekly lunch club. I had the opportunity to meet a range of volunteers and staff and to see how this weekly meet up enabled local citizens to not only enjoy a hot meal but also served as an opportunity for the community to get together.
Many people experience the isolation of loneliness at some point in their lives so I welcome the news that several organisations based within the city region have received funding from the government’s Building Connections Fund – the first ever fund dedicated to reducing loneliness – targeting people from all age groups and backgrounds. It is only by supporting a wide range of partners, organisations and citizens that we can collectively solve some of the challenges of growing an inclusive city, challenges such as social isolation. This ambition is further reflected in our One City Approach and our drive to work better together and deliver real improvements which people can see and feel.
For the first time, our upcoming joined-up action plan across the public, private, voluntary and academic sectors will look to use the collective power of the city’s key organisations to make a bigger impact for those who feel less connected within our society. I look forward to working with our partners as Bristol moves forward to becoming increasingly a city for all.