I’m really excited to have joined Leeds Older Peoples Forum as a Friendly Communities Officer, with a strong focus on developing the Age Friendly Ambassador programme. Hopefully I can play my part in ensuring Leeds becomes the best city in the country to grow old in. It’s brilliant that Leeds (particularly the council, LOPF and our member organisations), is putting so much effort into this area. The better the city is for older people, the more they (we – I’m borderline!) can contribute to its overall success.
As a lad from Cheshire and a family from Liverpool, I’m not sure how I’ve ended up this side o’ t Pennines, but it’s great to be here! I started out working for local authorities: Durham, Skipton and Bradford. Initially in economic development, I gradually moved towards working with people and communities.
In 2013 a friend and I set up ‘Your Back Yard’ – a Leeds-based social enterprise that seeks to ensure everyone has access to great facilities and services. In the last few years we have focussed increasingly on health and wellbeing, particularly on getting older adults more active. I am passionate about the benefits of exercise for older adults, anyone aged 40+ really. I recently did courses in fitness training, and on delivering exercise and fitness programmes for older adults that can help us age well…‘it’s not the years in your life, it’s the life in your years’!
With my Back Yard job going part time, working two days a week with the wonderful Friendly Communities team is an ideal opportunity. My role is to expand, support and diversify the Ambassador programme.
We already have 250+ ambassadors across the city, all signed up to take action to help raise awareness and spread the Age Friendly message. All existing ambassadors are adults. We intend to work with schools, colleges and universities to involve young people too. This will also give us opportunities for intergenerational projects, including fun stuff like walking football (another passion of mine!). I will also be looking at other gaps there might be in the ambassadorial pool, and at how we might offer new ways for ambassadors to make a difference. Watch this space!
Away from the workplace I love sport, particularly football, cricket, and tennis, cycling up big hills (where Yorkshire definitely beats Cheshire!), reading, good telly and music. And I have two beautiful daughters, who would not be happy if they didn’t get a mention!
Hopefully see you soon.
Friendly Communities Officer