Sunday, 13 December 2009

Older and young people relate differently to neighbours: shock news Survey research commissioned by the housing provider Circle Anglia and published last week focuses on the difference in neighbourhood connections between young people (18-24) and older people (over-65). As reports on these sorts of surveys go, this is refreshingly informative. The claim is that 92 percent of the over-65s say they know the name of their neighbours (which ones?). This compares with 66% of young people - which I'd have said was pretty encouraging. Older people tend to have lived in the same place for longer than younger people, especially if you subtract the first few years of a young person's life when they're less likely to be that sharp with names. Also I'm surely not the only to have noticed that young people don't tend to place a great deal of demand on informal social care locally, so somehow I wouldn't expect them to be getting into lots of conversation with neighbours. And since their neighbourhoods got covered with cars owned by adults, they're hardly inspired to hang about in the street, so we wouldn't expect much relaxed interaction with adult neighbours to be generated on a day-to-day basis. The report notes that 56 per cent of older people enjoy spending time with their neighbours. For me, this is the worrying statistic, if it means that means 44 per cent don't or are indifferent. The encouraging statistic is that 47 per cent of 18-24 year olds agree that living in a diverse neighbourhood is a good thing. Via the Beeb's coverage.
A Copenhagen for the ageing crisis? Short moan. This past couple of years I've been at quite a few events about social policy and older people, and on each occasion conscientiously made a point from the floor about the ageing population and the looming crisis of informal care. I've written to people in think tanks and the Guardian and so on, and blogged about it. Policy concerning older people in this country is largely concerned with pensions and benefits, and those themes dominate the debates and the thinking. Back in July I sounded more patient, referring to 'the simmering question of quite when policy will get hold of the issue of informal social care and start to do something about it. Given the difficulty I had in getting the ageing agencies interested in neighbouring I'm not sure where the impetus is going to come from.' Just for reference and as an indicator, the recent government consultation on the Ageing Strategy had just two questions in the section (ch.8) on communities and neighbourhoods: Q9. When you stopped driving, what helped you stay mobile and active in your community? What options would have helped? Q10. We want to improve attitudes towards ageing across society. What more could be done to challenge outdated stereotypes and tackle negative perceptions about being old? Can you share good examples of where this is already happening in your local community? I'd feel even more disillusioned if it weren't for the fact that in the Netherlands they're doing something about it, running several pilot projects on how to stimulate informal support at local level, and I'm lucky enough to be involved in that work. In the UK, policy blindness to this growing crisis is a disgrace. End of moan, for the time being, because here's Jackie Ashley in the Guardian with more influence, arguing that 'It could be as serious a threat as climate change, yet so far politicians have barely considered what needs to be done about our ageing population.' How long will the politicians leave it before any Copenhagen-style twelfth hour consideration, I wonder?

Recent Comments