Improving the lives of over 50s in Birmingham by addressing social isolation and loneliness

Ageing Better in Birmingham takes a strengths based approach to addressing isolation and loneliness by supporting unconstituted groups to improve connectivity in our communities, whilst also focusing on prevention.

More than 400 Ageing Better groups have been created and supported through the programme. These community led groups develop activities to bring people together and increase opportunities to create social connections.

The programme, a partnership between voluntary sector organisations and Birmingham communities, has engaged over 7,000 people, reflective of the super diversity of the city. Participants support each other out of loneliness and isolation in a way that has been verified by independent evaluation.

Dance classes help Brummies over 50 find their feet, socialise and make friends.

Michael and Patrone, who both love dancing with Sprung

The Sprung dance group was set up by Patrick Chan following his involvement in the “Move in Movies” programme, a 12-week long dance participation project for LGBT people, delivered by Birmingham Royal Ballet in partnership with Birmingham LGBT.

Patrick wanted to empower adults of different ages, genders and abilities to come together through the joy of dancing. He said:

“It’s a stimulus for doing other physical and social activities. The whole idea is about forming new friendships and social connections, and overcoming stereotypes about ageing and isolation.”

Read the Sprung Group’s story

Barmy knitters becoming close-knit friends

Women from the Barmy Knitters Group

Barmy Knitters is a gathering of Erdington locals who come together for a chat, to drink tea and to knit or crochet lovely colourful items destined for donation to charities and friends.

“It gets me out and about, socialising and building friendships”, says Margaret, one of the members.

Read the Barmy Knitters’ story

Men United

The Men United, winners of the Walking Football World Cup 2019

A group of friends formed a football team to help tackle feelings of loneliness and isolation, and achieved World Cup glory

Reunited at the funeral of a mutual friend, the former school friends decided to get together more regularly to support each other and formed the five-a-side team. Turning adversity into triumph they began their road to success after entering the 2019 FA People’s Cup. Seeing off thousands of others in a series of heats, they collected their winner’s trophy at Wembley Stadium in front of 85,000 fans at the FA Cup Final in May. The Men United AKA Pele’s Pearls were then selected to represent England at the first ever Walking Football World Cup in June 2019, where they went on winning the title for England!

Looking forward

Ageing Better Birmingham will leave a transformed landscape for the city. This will be done through joint work with Birmingham City Council to help make Birmingham an Age-Friendly City, and by supporting the transformation of the voluntary and community sector to offer ongoing effective support to communities into the future.

“Several of us have experienced isolation, bereavement and marriage breakdown and the activity has really given us a lift. I’ve given up smoking and a number of us have lost more than a stone in weight” said Michael Clacken, goalkeeper for Men United.

Connect with the programme on social media: