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Will Lancastrians rise to the Ageing Well Challenge?

John Freeman
Nearly a third of people in the North West lack the confidence to tackle the isolation of elderly people in their community, according to a new survey for innovation foundation Nesta.

Over half (59 per cent) would like to help with the issue but almost a third (29 per cent) do not have the confidence to do so.

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

Although 15 per cent of people in the North West are already trying to reduce the isolation of elderly people, 32 per cent 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.

“Tackling social isolation is enormously important in helping older people to maintain their quality of life," notes Emma Soames from Saga Magazine. "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.

“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," feels Vicki Purewal, Head of the Centre for Challenge Prize at Nesta. "This is why we have launched the Ageing Well challenge prize."

Nesta is an independent charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life.

“Elderly isolation is a growing issue with research from organisations such as The Campaign to End Loneliness showing that elderly feel trapped and alone," Vicki continues. "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, government Minister for Civil Society, has welcomed the project. “It’s very encouraging how many people would like to help reduce loneliness in our communities," he commented. "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 (22 per cent) of people in the North West volunteered for community action projects in the last year, yet almost a third (32 per cent) plan to in the next year.

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