Camden has 33,000 older people. According to national studies, 33% ie 11,000 older people in Camden, sometimes feel lonely.

In 2013, when the Big Lottery announced its intention to choose 14 areas to participate in its Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme, Camden Council, together with the local voluntary sector, started to meet together with local older people to form a plan. Two years later in March 2015, following many meetings, big and small, Ageing Better in Camden’s Project Plan was accepted by Big Lottery.

Camden’s diverse communities are at the heart of the Ageing Better in Camden approach. The programme will run from July 2015 – June 2021, valued at over £9 million. £4.5 million of this has been successfully secured from the Big Lottery Fund, with £1.5 million in match funding committed, or to be secured from local and wider agencies. About £3 million of the contribution will come in the value of ‘in-kind’ voluntary effort by local people, predominantly older people providing support to their more isolated fellow older citizens.

The programme has three themes.

Ageing Better in Camden’s first theme is the identification of socially isolated older people.

This is being delivered by three projects:

  • Pharmacy project in which pharmacy staff including pharmacy drivers will identify socially isolated older people;
  • Camden Community Connectors, the biggest project with six paid staff and a large team of volunteers who will use community networks to identify people and then support and draw them into local community activities.
  • Both the above will be complemented by RecommendMe, an innovative web app giving tailored recommendations on what support and activities are available to people.

The second theme will apply and test out Asset-based Community Development approaches to tackling social isolation.

Having identified that some older people are more likely to experience social isolation and loneliness there will be activities delivered by five of the Borough’s most affected neighbourhood communities (Kilburn, St Pancras Somers Town, Regent’s Park/ West Euston, Gospel Oak/ Haverstock, plus one more to be identified) and two of its minority communities (Bangladeshi, and lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT)). Activities building on local resources, expertise and efforts will additionally address: older men’s social isolation, use of computers and the internet, intergenerational activities involving both older and younger people. Through participation in the programme, older people will be reconnected to local networks and their involvement will strengthen their communities and improve their wellbeing.

Recognising that there is learning from these efforts in Camden to tackle social isolation in older people, the Big Lottery Fund wants to ensure that approaches are tested and lessons learned both locally and wider. Ageing Better in Camden is committed to this ‘test and learn’ approach, and of communicating the change that it’s Asset-Based Community Development approach and targeted innovative initiatives bring about.

The third theme sees the ABC partnership sharing how activities are impacting on social isolation as the programme grows and develops.

The current Project Plan describes how Ageing Better in Camden builds on partners’ participation in extensive networks - and how they have been recognised by these learning and good practice networks for innovation and effectiveness.

Ageing Better in Camden has a Strategic Board which informs and supports the effective management, co-ordination and delivery of the programme. Find out more about Ageing Better in Camden's governance.

The programme was officially launched in November 2015 with a successful event held at NCVO. Speakers included The Mayor of Camden, members of Kilburn Older Voices Exchange (KOVE) and a representative from the Big Lottery.

This short film, made by Aardman Animations, the people who brought you Wallace and Gromit, premiered at the launch. It aims to raise awareness of the effects of social isolation among older people, but also to promote the positive activities that older people and organisations can get involved with through Ageing Better in Camden.

Congratulations to the winner of the competition to name the animation. The winning title is: 'So, this is getting old!'