Last week I attended the Ageing better National Conference, meeting colleagues from the 13 other cities that are delivering similar programmes funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The theme of the conference was “making connections” and this referred not only to participants but also the opportunities that Ageing Better has given to partners and volunteers.
Many of our projects focus on connections from Community Navigators and First contact checklist, connecting people to activities and services to Friends Ageing Better and Southmead Travelling Teapot connecting people with each other. Our recent partnership meeting reminded me of the importance of connections for partner organisations and likewise, it was fantastic to connect with people doing similar work to BAB in other parts of England. It is interesting to see how other areas have addressed similar problems such as the Isle of Wight’s approach to Age friendly transport or the Thanet's Community Fund which is similar to our Kickstart.
I always think that the conference has a good mix of people, from programme managers and participants to volunteers, officers and partner organisations. Bristol sent a delegation of 5 this year that included Carly and myself, Carol Watson, Head of Adult Care Commissioning for Bristol Council and two of our volunteers, Chris and Pat. Both of them contribute so much to the programme, Chris being a Community Researcher and Pat helping with Kickstart, recruitment and Here we grow. You can read Chris’ unique report on his conference experience here! The conference was hectic for all of us and on the journey back, each of us were equally exhausted and brimming with inspiration from the connections we made.
As we enter the final 18 months of the funded programme, connections will continue to be important to Bristol Ageing Better. For isolated and lonely older people, we want to improve their connections to services, activities and other people in Bristol. For partners, we want to provide the right space for people to connect and collaborate. Either way, connections and collaboration are a key to all aspects of Bristol Ageing Better.
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