5 April 2012Jo Coulson, prospective PhD candidate and part-time Research Associate at the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health, joined Tom Wright, CBE (CEO of Age UK), on the closing plenary of The South West Seniors’ Assembly (SWSA) annual conference in Somerset on Friday 30 March.
The day was designed for local older people to work with service-providers, policy-makers and professionals, to provide practical solutions for some of the biggest age-related challenges they face today. After setting the scene, Jo disseminated key findings from Projects OPAL and OPAL+, one of the School’s exciting strands of ageing research. The chair for the day was broadcaster and journalist Valerie Singleton, OBE.
Jo’s presentation focused on one of the group’s four annual themes, chosen by members themselves: ‘Ageing well: getting out and about, staying active and involved.’ It was preceded by talks from Lizzie Feltoe (Policy Advisor on Social Care, Age UK), Jon Carling (CEO for the Commission on Rural Communities), and Daniel Pearson (Director of First Stop).
The annual themes were then discussed in detail in separate ‘action groups,’ which involved listening to older people’s experiences and invited expert opinion. Each set of delegates then developed positive proposals for older residents in the west to take forward for consultation and campaigning. The conference was co-hosted by the SWSN, the South West Forum on Ageing and Age UK, and a report will be available in due course. One of the four themes will be prioritised for the group’s national-level action.
The conference was particularly timely: Saturday 7 April 2012 is World Health Day, the theme of which is ‘Ageing and health: Good health adds life to years.’ The year 2011-12 also celebrates the following important launches: the first UK physical activity guidelines specifically for older adults (2011), Esther Rantzen’s Silver Line, the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Olympic legacy. The 8th World Congress on Active Ageing, held once every four years, is also being hosted in Glasgow, from 13 August.