Category Archives: A City For All Ages

Making Later Life Better in Leeds

By Joanna Volpe, Leeds Programme and Partnership Manager, Centre for Ageing Better, Age Friendly City Programme


If you were to draw or sew a picture of what your home town means to you, what would it look like? I recently visited a group of ladies at a weekly social event called Heydays in Leeds who were doing just that.

What struck me was that all the pictures they embroidered were of their homes, their street, where they brought their families up. To me, the sewing session illustrated clearly what’s important to people in later life – their houses, being involved in their community, and being able to be active and travel around it.

These three areas are set to be the focus of a new partnership between Leeds City Council, Leeds Older People’s Forum and the Centre for Ageing Better. The partnership will build on Leeds’s existing commitment to be an ‘Age-friendly City’ and ‘the best city to grow old’ in. Over the next five years, we want to apply evidence to make changes that lead to a better later life for older residents in Leeds, now and in the future.

Your home

We know that most people in later life want to stay in their own homes and spend more time in their homes and their neighbourhoods than any other group. To age well, those homes need to be safe, warm and close to loved ones. Centre for Ageing Better recently published evidence showing that adapting homes can improve their suitability and keep people well for longer by reducing falls and accidents. However, for the majority finding out where and how they can have their homes adapted, and whether they are entitled to support with funding those home improvements, isn’t straight forward.

Older people in Leeds have told us that they want information and advice about their housing options – an area that we plan to explore further in the New Year. We want to understand what, how and when people seek advice about where they live, and what sorts of factors motivate people to act on the information they receive.

Your community

Although the building is incredibly important, what often makes your home a place where you want to stay is your community, the things that are going on around you, and of course being able to see family and friends. But this inevitably requires travelling, perhaps to neighbouring areas for health appointments, to visit friends or take part in community activities such as the Heydays club. People in Leeds have told us this can be difficult – particularly those shorter journeys.  In fact some people said it’s easier to travel out of Leeds than between areas.

That’s why one of the projects we have initiated is to look for new solutions for transport and connecting communities in Leeds. We’re really excited about this and will be reporting on our progress later in the year.

Acts of Neighbourliness

Being involved and contributing to our communities, whether through volunteering or just being neighbourly, is good for our wellbeing and an important source of confidence and purpose whatever our age. There is evidence that it can also result in an increase in the number and quality the relationships we have.

We know that many people in later life make significant contributions to their communities and we want to see more people able to access the benefits that volunteering brings.

So, part of the work we will do in Leeds this year will be to look at the opportunities over 50s have to getting involved in voluntary and community activity, what motivates them, and what are some of the barriers they might face. Using what we have learned in Leeds, we want to encourage others, such as councils, charities, and businesses – in Leeds and across the country – to provide people in later life with more opportunities and support.

For updates on this work follow @ageing_better or sign up for Centre for Ageing Better’s newsletter on their website

You can also contact Joanne Volpe who is supporting the work of the partnership at

Are you sitting comfortably?

By Sean Tunnicliffe, Communications Officer, Leeds Older People’s Forum

“There are many benefits to more seating: as well as helping shoppers, seating will encourage more older people to go out thus providing them with opportunities for social interaction, reducing loneliness. The shops also benefit as these people are more likely to use them, boosting their profits.”
Simon Peyton, Standing up for Sitting Down

Don’t take it lying down

LOPF was recently contacted by one of our members who had visited a new shopping arcade which had opened in Leeds. This person has an arthritic hip and so after walking around for a while needed to sit down.

This might seem a reasonable and sensible thing to do but unfortunately this brand new shopping centre contains no public seating so the person was unable to rest there and so had to walk further to find a seat.

Rather than leave it at that the person contacted us to ask if this something that LOPF can pursue under the Age Friendly City work.

WHO Guidance for age friendly cities

The World Health Organisation has published guidance for age-friendly cities, which includes the need for public benches that provided resting spots for the elderly.

Without these, the WHO says, many older people feel trapped indoors, unable to travel to the local shops and isolated from visiting friends and family on foot.

Don’t shop ‘till you drop

It seems bizarre that people can design a new shopping centre without giving any consideration for public seating but this issue seems to be getting raised more and more and I am at a loss to understand what the thinking is behind this.

Community seating in shopping centres make them more accessible and makes more people use them. It’s not just older people who like to sit down; there are people with mobility issues, people with young children and people of all ages who like to just watch the world go by.

Not everybody wants to buy a cup of coffee (other beverages are no doubt available) to do this, but sometimes it’s only the cafes which offer seating.

Easy on the eye but not on the legs

Something else I’ve noticed is that more and more public seating seems to be designed to be aesthetically pleasing rather than functional and comfortable (or alternatively is designed to discourage rough sleepers). A simple thing like a lack of arm rests can make it difficult for some people to get up.

Perversely when community seating does have more armrests it is often aimed at stopping homeless people from sleeping on them rather than helping people get up. British bus stops are also designed to be tough to sleep in which often results in seating that isn’t comfortable.

The message is spreading

Jane Robinson, who works for Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours (when not working for Leeds Bereavement Forum) has recently written a blog on the subject of community seating after investigating the seating choices in her local area which you can read here:

Phil Kirby also wrote on Culture Vultures with his take on the issue of public seating in Leeds City Centre:

If you have any views, thoughts or examples of areas with a lack of seating please contact me at

 Standing up for sitting down

Anchor Housing is running a national campaign to improve community seating.

Standing Up 4 Sitting Down (#su4sd) is a national initiative aiming to improve people’s access to their local shops and high street by increasing the amount of seating available to those who need it.

They are looking for people and organisations to sign up to support the campaign

Further reading

The park bench: A powerful symbol in the debate for people-friendly spaces

The social value of public spaces

Vanishing seats turning high streets into standing-room-only zones

IDOP 2106

By Sean Tunnicliffe, Communications Officer, Leeds Older People’s Forum

The International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) is celebrated annually on 1 October and Leeds will be celebrating with a series of community events running from 29 September – 10 October.


The theme for IDOP Leeds 2016 is Mental Well-being with a focus on arts and culture and as with previous years small grants of up to £200 were available for organisations and groups wishing to stage community events.

Defining ‘Culture’

We asked groups applying for grants  to use creative and interesting ways to share different ideas and customs, to celebrate people’s sense of belonging and connect them to diverse cultural experiences – this could include art, poetry, creative writing, dance and drama, film, food, fashion.


Art to Zentangles

We got the usual excellent response from organisations across the city and we eventually gave grants to 18 organisations and there are also events being run by Leeds City Council departments and voluntary sector organisations which didn’t receive grants.

The events are a rich and varied mix embracing different aspects of culture. There are events based around creative writing, cinema, singing and dancing, food, drama, drawing, mosaic and play.

There are also events based on mindfulness and therapy, celebrating  the Celtic festival of autumn plus a Scarecrow Festival in Bramley. Several of the events will be inter-generational, which we are always happy to see. An important aspect of IDOP Leeds is to bring generations together and to remind everyone of the important contribution older people make to this city.

You can read about everything that’s happening by clicking on the link below:

IDOP Leeds 2016 Calendar


More to it than just fun & celebration

Whilst the events are (obviously) designed to be fun and to celebrate older people there is more purpose to them than just simple pleasure. Many events are designed to get people out and to maybe try something  or go somewhere they wouldn’t ordinarily  get the chance to.

There are events which are designed to help people with their physical and mental health and well-being.

Several events will bring older people together with their peers, and in some cases children, they will get to reminisce about life, the games they used to play and the films they used to watch and the area where they live. Young and old will get to share their personal experiences with each other and hopefully learn from and about each other.

A good example of this is Richmond Hill Elderly Action who over the course of six-weeks will produce a mosaic featuring memories of the local community. When finished it will go on display at Richmond Hill Community Centre.


We will be encouraging the organisations hosting IDOP Community Events to do live tweets during their events and we will have our own IDOP hashtag (#IDOPLDS) in order to highlight all tweets posted. This will be used to produce a storyboard and some of the  content for a post IDOP report that will be produced by LOPF.

Details of the organisation who will be tweeting can be found in the IDOP Leeds 2016 Calendar

You can also follow #IDOPLDS at the Twitter accounts listed below:
@LeedsOPF | @betterliveslds | @LeedsMuseums | @AgeFriendlyLDS

IDOP 2016 Planning & Community Grants

The IDOP Leeds Community Grants are awarded by a panel made up from members of the IDOP Planning Committee on behalf of Public Health, Adult Social Care Equality and Diversity and the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The IDOP 2016 Planning Committee  is made of of representatives from Leeds Older People’s Forum, Age UK Leeds, Volition, Leeds City Council Public Health, Leeds City Council Adult Social Care Equality and Diversity, Leeds City Council Museums & Galleries, Leeds City Council Libraries and Information Service and the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups.

For more information contact Leeds Older People’s Forum | (0113) 344 1697 | LOPF website IDOP page






100% Digital Leeds

Monday, 23 May 2016 from 09:15 to 13:00
ODI Leeds – 3rd Floor Munro House Duke Street, Leeds, LS9 8AG

100 Digital

On 23 May, you’re invited to attend a free event to help shape the strategy and plans for making Leeds a 100% digital city.

To achieve the bold ambition of ensuring 100% of Leeds residents have basic digital skills, we need to work together to create a plan that will ensure everyone can benefit from digital.

The event is being organised by Leeds City Council and Tinder Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity.

Book your place here


You’ll get the chance to hear from Leeds City Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Tinder Foundation, Helen Milner OBE, Victoria Betton from mHabitat and Mick Ward, Head of Commissioning for Adult Social Care at Leeds City Council.

A practical event

The event will be a practical one, with delegates helping to shape the digital literacy priorities and opportunities for the city and committing to making things happen. At the end of the half day event, we’ll come away with a really clear plan for what we all need to do to make Leeds a truly digital city.

100% Digital Leeds will see influential and effective people from across the city, and from a variety of sectors, come together to create and shape a new movement for digital literacy that will have powerful, lasting impact.

The event will give you the chance to

  • Learn about the digital challenge facing Leeds and the opportunity to address it
  • Discuss what works in helping people become digitally literate, using your experience, networks and influence
  • Shape the priorities for an impactful digital literacy movement across Leeds
  • Meet others who are passionate about digital literacy.

Who is the event for?

The event is aimed at organisations and people who believe in the potential of a fully digital Leeds, and can contribute and support a plan to close the digital divide. This could include:

  • People working to help and support local communities
  • People working in social tech
  • People running volunteering or CSR initiatives within large employers in the city
  • People working in health and social care or adult skills
  • People working within the third sector

We’re looking for delegates who can really commit to making a difference in the city to support the city’s ambitious vision.


9.15 – 9.45: Coffee and registration

9.45 – 10.05: Opening and scene setting

  • The opportunity: 100% Digital Leeds (Tom Riordan, Chief Executive, Leeds City Council)
  • The challenge: digital literacy in Leeds (Helen Milner OBE, Chief Executive, Tinder Foundation)

10:05 – 10.15: Barriers – including staff engagement (Victoria Betton, Director, mhabitat)

10.15 – 10.30: Addressing the barriers – introducing the ‘One Database’

10.30 – 11.00: Activity – Identifying your priorities for the city 

11:00 – 11.15: Voting for your Top Ten priorities

11.15 – 11.35: Coffee break  

11.35 – 11.45: The impact of digital inclusion 

11.45 – 12.00: Outlining our Top Ten priorities 

12.00 – 12.30: Activity – Action plans – What can I do to make a difference?

12.30 – 12.45: Summary and close (Mick Ward, Head of Commissioning, Adult Social Care, Leeds City Council)

Tinder Logo

A new Culture Strategy for Leeds – written by you

Kat Handy, Culture and Sport, City Development Directorate, Leeds City Council

LCC Culture

For Leeds to bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023 it must have an up to date Culture Strategy

Often written by and for policy makers in local government, many people in Leeds won’t ever have read a Culture Strategy, but they are the people who make the city’s culture from pop-up events and festivals, film nights, and community groups who use art and culture to fight mental health and combat loneliness to the poets telling our stories, and performers and dance enthusiasts reducing physical inactivity and keeping us fit. If you don’t already make the culture of Leeds, then it’s likely that one day soon you will.

The new Culture Strategy is going to be written by as many people in Leeds as we can find to take part. We’re looking for people to create a different definition of culture that still includes, but isn’t just about, the arts, covering food, music, dance, parks, galas and more.

We’re looking for people who have big ideas for what they might to see in their local area or the things they might want to make happen that they know can make a difference, but aren’t really sure how or where to start. We’re looking for people who want a say in how the European Capital of Culture bid might develop and what it might include, as the Culture Strategy will set the tone and framework for the development of the bid.

We will record everything at and use this to make decisions about what we keep in the strategy and what we don’t, so that everyone can see how it developed. We’ve made a start suggesting a different approach and some of the values that might underpin the new strategy, but this could all change depending on the feedback from you and your colleagues, friends and neighbours.

But the strategy won’t be written by you if we can’t find you. Over the next few months we’re trying to find as many groups, meetings, events, workshops and more to attend and talk about what a Culture Strategy could, should and would do for Leeds if we got it right.
If you can find a space for us on your agendas or spare half an hour to tell us what you value or have 15 minutes to read the posts already on the blog and your two penneth then please let us know.

If this sounds like you please get in touch with Kat Handy at 

Your city. Your plan

Working with you to find the best locations for new homes, jobs, greenspace and retail

What are the plans for the growth of Leeds?Leeds City Council is undertaking a major planning exercise which will help to deliver our Core Strategy. The Core Strategy is a 16 year strategic plan up to 2028 that guides all regeneration, housing growth and development in Leeds.

To meet the housing demand, Leeds needs 70000 new homes. To support this, Leeds has developed 2 plans; the plans identify all the sites which have the potential to be used for new housing, employment, retail and green space.

The site allocations plan does this for the entire Leeds district apart from a specific area to the south east of the city centre which is covered by the Aire Valley Leeds Area Action Plan.

Why is there a separate plan for the Aire Valley area? 
This Aire Valley Leeds Action Plan is specific to 1,300 hectares of land in the Aire Valley, running to just beyond Junction 45 of the M1 and includes Richmond Hill, Cross Green, Stourton and Hunslet.  This area has been identified as of significant economic regeneration potential as it contains the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, the South Bank and other major development opportunities.

The plan for it has been in preparation since 2005 with the involvement of local communities, businesses and other stakeholders through earlier consultations.

The plan identifies over 450 hectares of mostly previously developed sites, providing up to 7,800 new homes and 255 hectares for employment.  To support this new development and meet the need of existing communities, the plan includes proposals for new community facilities, such as two new schools, sites for new food stores and health facilities, a new 3.5-hectare park in the south of the city centre and improved transport services.

Have your say
We want to hear your views on these plans and the sites that have been identified for development. We want to work together to find the best places for new homes, jobs, retail and green space. It’s important that you have your say. There will be new homes in all areas across the city and the plans detail exact locations of all proposed developments. Every response will be looked at by an independent inspector who will either recommend amending or approving the plans.

Over the next 8 weeks you are invited to give your views. The consultation opens from Tuesday 22 September until 5pm on Monday 16 November 2015.

Visit for more information and to locate the form you can complete to have your say.
If you have a question or would like to know more, there are a series of drop in consultation sessions across the city. Dates, times and locations can be found on the website.

Printed response forms are available in your local library, one stop shop and community hub, expressing your views using the online form is the easiest and quickest way so why not ask a member of staff to show you where and how to complete the form online.

Want to know more?
Visit a drop-in session. For locations and dates

Have your say or visit your library, one stop shop or community  hub

Making Leeds the Best City to Grow Old In – event success

An event at Leeds Town Hall about ‘making Leeds the best city to grow old in’ drew a capacity audience on 9 March. Representatives from key groups came together to discuss priorities and outcomes for the breakthrough project.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds Council’s executive member for adult social care, said the event was the first major step on “what promises to be an exciting journey”, that the council’s hopes will culminate in Leeds being the country’s best city for people to grow old in.

The event focussed on key development areas for the age friendly agenda including outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation and inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication, information, community support and health services.

Cllr Ogilvie added:

“We know that Leeds already has an incredibly dedicated network of groups and individuals working to ensure older people are given the best possible opportunities to enjoy the city,” he said. “By gathering people together from some of those organisations we were able to share and discuss our best ideas and hopefully change the future landscape of the city for all of our older people”.

Many ideas on making Leeds the best city to grow old in were explored. Comments from twitter included:

@CarersLeeds | Afternoon well spent #agefriendlyleeds workshop. Plethora of ideas 2 make Leeds THE best age friendly city. Even stood on one leg! #dontask

@AdamPOlgivie | Thanks to all at the #agefriendlyleeds workshop today. Lots of ideas on how we can make Leeds the best city to grow old in @AgefriendlyLDS

@LBEAssociation| #agefriendlyleeds  discussion roundups are interesting! Lots of ideas to keep older people involved and engaged!

For more information about the project, contact

Leeds Dementia Action Alliance Open Meeting

Organisations unite to take positive action about dementia in Leeds

More than 70 people from businesses, public services and community groups across the city came to the open meeting of the Leeds Dementia Action Alliance on 19 May at West Yorkshire Playhouse, to find out more about building dementia friendly communities in Leeds.

DSCF1195Bob Fulcher spoke eloquently and with a dash of humour about living with dementia, setting the scene for other speakers. Inspector Yvette Hamill from West Yorkshire Police explained how her team has benefitted from dementia awareness training, and further good examples of local organisations taking positive action came from Nicky Taylor from West Yorkshire Playhouse, Peter Smith from Dementia Friendly Rothwell, Erica Ward from Metro, Ripaljeet Kaur from Touchstone Leeds and Maggie Graham, who co-ordinates the alliance for the Leeds Older People’s Forum.

Tim Sanders spoke for Leeds City Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning groups in Leeds, who support this campaign and the national Dementia Friends campaign, as important initiatives to enable people live well with dementia.

The meeting was chaired by Mick Ward, head of commissioning for adult social care, Leeds City Council. He said: “It was a great way to celebrate Dementia Awareness Week and raise awareness of all the work that is taking place to help Leeds become more dementia friendly.

I genuinely thought it was one of the more inspiring events I have been to – a real example of seeing organisations change and develop fantastic potential. Every organisation that deals with the public can do something positive to help people with dementia and carers feel better supported in our communities”.

Chorlton for All Ages #3

You may have seen recently in the news the case for creating age friendly cities. Here is the concluding instalment of the Chorlton for All Ages (Manchester) series which will give you a good picture of what an age friendly (young and old!) neighbourhood would look like from the perspectives of its younger and older residents.

There’s an opportunity to discuss Leeds becoming an age friendly city at Ageing Well in Leeds on October 9th.

Guest post by Matthew Hargreaves

With the final manifestation being an architectural design and a proposed scheme for Chorlton district centre, it explores themes around the ‘Working in collaboration with local partners, including the Manchester City Council Valuing Older People team and Manchester Design LAB students, and speeking to numerous local younger and older residents to develop proposals for the South Manchester ward of Chorlton.  By working in this collaborative and inclusive manner, the aim of this project was to envisage the regeneration of Chorlton as a place that is accessible to people of all ages. Age-Friendly’ City concept, Intergenerational Practice and Intergenerational Design, and promotes unique architectural methodologies through the use of innovative forms of consultation and representation.  

Though based in Manchester, the project has far reaching implications beyond the locality of Chorlton with broader relevance for cities and towns with reference to the ‘age-friendly’ analysis, concept development of Intergenerational Design, and use of inclusive architectural techniques.

Chorton for All Ages # 2

Again, this is a re-post from our old blog. It was posted there in January 2012. Next up will be the latest and concluding post on the project.

Guest post by Matthew Hargreaves

To briefly recap, my project over the course of this academic year is looking at the regeneration of the South Manchester ward of Chorlton, and how ‘Age-Friendly’ a place it is to live now and in the future.  As part of this, I will propose my own architectural ideas for the area.  These will be based on consultation from the often overlooked members of the community, younger and older people, to ensure my designs for Chorlton accommodate the needs of people of all ages.

In my previous blog, I discussed how the use of a short film I had made proved to be a successful technique with which to provoke discussion about issues regarding age-friendliness.  To engage with some of the younger and older residents of Chorlton, I wanted to create an interesting situation again, to create a comfortable environment in which people would share their views about the place they live in.  From talking to people about the issues that matter to people in Chorlton, it would provide me with the information and local knowledge I believe is necessary in order to design an architectural proposition that responds to local needs.

To gather this information I held two consultation events in the area, one focused towards the views of younger people, one towards those of older people.   The objective of the event was simple, to ensure people of all ages and abilities could participate, which was simply to write or draw on a map of the area.  On these maps, titled ‘Your Chorlton’, and ‘Your Ideal Chorlton’, I asked participants to share their thoughts and opinions on places they currently like to go to, and suggest places they would like to go to if the facilities were there.

(Photographs from the consultation events. Left: with younger people at the shopping precinct. Right: with older people at a local community group)

This activity proved to be a successful method to have a conversation with people and talk about the place they live and how it could be improved, with the map acting as a way of recording the interaction.  With both events I gathered a wide range of comments from both age groups.  Comments ranged from the small scale and pragmatic, “Shops need better wheelchair access”, the larger and more ambitious, “Move police station and bus station”, to the humorous, as one young boy wrote, “Better toilets [in the leisure centre], every time I go in there, there’s a dump on the floor :S ”.

Comments gathered from older residents

From this large number of comments, I produced a series of drawings to visualise the data I received, and to compare the information between the two consultations.  This made it easier for me to communicate the findings to other people, but also revealed the similarities and differences between younger and older perceptions in Chorlton.  In this visualisation below for instance, I represented all of the comments using coloured circles, with green showing positive comments and red showing negative comments, to show an overall ‘perception map’ of Chorlton.

Map showing positive and negative perceptions of Chorlton, from younger and older residents

This made clear how people feel about the area they live, where I learnt what places people like (i.e. to be retained), and what places they don’t (i.e. places that could be improved).  What is also interesting to note from these events, is that many of the suggested improvements to the area were mentioned in both consultations, showing that issues affecting younger people can also affect older people.  This overlap is apparent in the collage visualisation I made [pictured below], which shows the various facilities that people suggested in the ‘Your Ideal Chorlton’ consultation.

visualisation of comments from ‘Your Ideal Chorlton’, depicting opinions from both events

Here, we see the facilities suggested by younger people with those from older people, and it is possible to see a considerable overlap between the two in the middle.  As with my initial analysis of the site, it is interesting to see how the issues that affect younger and older people have many similarities.  By producing this image, I now had a strong visual starting point from which to understand what my proposed architectural program should be, to help inform the development of my design.

These events show how it is important to consult people to discover what the real needs of people are, relative to where they live.  It has made me aware of the issues of younger and older residents specific to Chorlton, issues that would likely have been overlooked with more conventional means of practicing architecture.   By having this better understanding of the area, from the often unheard or overlooked members of the community, from an architectural perspective I am now better placed to produce proposals for Chorlton that responds to the needs of all ages.