Press release

£100,000 Challenge Prize fund to help communities reduce isolation in old age

Organisations are being encouraged to come up with novel ideas that can bring people together to tackle the problem of isolation in old age.

30 August 2012

Organisations are being encouraged to come forward with novel ideas that can bring people together to tackle the problem of isolation in old age, the Cabinet Office and Nesta announced today.
 
The call for submissions to the Ageing Well challenge comes as a new survey reveals that over half of people in the UK would like to help reduce the isolation of elderly people in their community, but almost a third do not have the confidence to do so.

Although 14 per cent of people are already trying to reduce the isolation of elderly, 34 per cent of respondents said that they would like to help but don’t know how. A further 12 per cent of people said that they have ideas which they have not yet put into action.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:

It’s very encouraging how many people would like to help reduce loneliness in our communities. Through this Challenge Prize we are looking to support great new ideas that will make it easier for more people to get involved and make a positive difference.

Emma Soames, editor-at-large, Saga Magazine said:

Tackling social isolation is enormously important in helping older people to maintain their quality of life. There must be some great ideas out there for tackling it and this is a great opportunity to make a brilliant idea happen.

The Ageing Well challenge, which is run by Nesta’s Centre for Challenge Prizes and funded by the Cabinet Office, seeks ideas to reduce the isolation and increase the mobility of vulnerable older people, by creating new opportunities for people to give time, skills and resources. The deadline to submit ideas to the Ageing Well challenge is 14 September 2012 and application is via www.nesta.org.uk/givingchallenges.
 
Vicki Purewal, head of the Centre for Challenge Prizes, Nesta, said:

It is clear that communities have the ideas, skills and the passion to help reduce isolation in old age, but sometimes we all need motivation and help to get ideas off of the ground and a boost in confidence. This is why we have launched the Ageing Well challenge prize.

Elderly isolation is a growing issue with research from organisations such as The Campaign to End Loneliness showing that elderly feel trapped and alone. We want people to submit new ideas that have the potential to reduce isolation and increase mobility of elderly by tapping into collective skills and resources of neighbours, family, peers, organisations and businesses.

The survey results are promising as people increasingly recognise the impact that community initiatives can have as the appetite for volunteering time, skills and resources grows: less than a quarter of people volunteered to community action projects in the last year, yet a third plan to in the next year.
 
Only a quarter of respondents said that skills are the barrier to put an idea into action, instead citing challenges in knowing where to start (48 per cent), followed by lack of time (45 per cent) and lack of funding (42 per cent).
 
In the survey, people overwhelmingly called for community spirit, social groups, community living, good transport and strong relationships with family and friends of all generations when asked what they wished for to help combat isolation and lack of mobility among elderly. The Ageing Well challenge prize will reward innovative approaches that take these and other areas affecting isolation in to consideration.
 
Twenty-five entries to the Ageing Well challenge will be shortlisted and given the support and opportunity to develop a detailed plan for their idea. Five concepts with the potential for sustainability and scale will then each receive up to £10,000 and professional advice to set up and test their projects. The idea that is proving most effective at reducing isolation, and has the potential to be even more effective in the future, will be selected in September 2013 and will be awarded £50,000.

Entry is via online application at www.nesta.org.uk/givingchallenges and the deadline is noon 14 September 2012.

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