Ageing Better in Camden (ABC) is a six-year programme that aims to address social isolation and loneliness in older people living in Camden. The programme supports older people become more involved in their communities and provide stronger support to each other. It also aims to ensure services are more relevant, better co-ordinated, and have more older people engaged in their design and delivery.
“It brings life into my body. I don’t think of all my pains and problems and have a nice time. It is somewhere to meet people and make friends. You learn something every time you go there.” (Intergenerational project participant, female, 70)
Traverse is conducting an independent evaluation of the programme and this report draws on rich qualitative data from conversations with participants and project leads, as well as quantitative data from demographic surveys.
Across the groups and interviews, participants tended to have high levels of satisfaction with the projects, and overall the projects have reduced social isolation, and increased confidence and independence among their participants, as well as strengthening relationships across communities and generations.
Friendly, enabling frontline staff are playing a pivotal role in enabling participants to achieve positive impacts. They go ‘above and beyond’ to facilitate participation, e.g. collecting a wheelchair users from home, and regularly communicating with service users about events and activities – making people feel ‘looked after’.
‘‘I thought: you’ve got to start somewhere, I might be on my own one day, you never know. I’ve got to know how to do things. I’m quite handy at preparing vegetables and stuff, and baking, I can do a crumble and stuff like that.’’ (Men’s Cooking participant, 71)
Projects were found to support long-standing members and welcome new joiners. Over time many people become ‘super participants’, attending multiple sessions a week and/ or supporting others to get involved. Many examples have emerged of how participants are informing and developing what is offered (co-design) as well as contributing to the delivery of the projects (co-production).