The £6m Ageing Better in Birmingham programme was due to finish in March 2021 but thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, it has been extended for another year.

The programme was set up in 2015 to improve the lives of people aged over 50 by addressing loneliness and developing creative ways they can be actively involved in their local communities.

Because of the pandemic, projects and activities that was due to take place in 2020 couldn’t go ahead as planned. The additional year will allow the Birmingham programme to allow for some of these activities to go ahead, and to share learning about what works when it comes to engaging with people over 50 who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation. 

So far, over 9,000 people have been involved in activities across Birmingham with 60% feeling less lonely.

Vimla Dodds, 79, a member of the coproduction group that helps steer the direction of the programme, said: “This couldn’t come at a better time. I’ve seen the difference the programme has made to people across communities in the city and it’s been sad to see the pandemic force some people back into isolation. During these unprecedented time, we all need hope and something to look forward to.”

During the spring and summer, Ageing Better in Birmingham supported local citizens to keep connecting by funding socially distanced activities such as online lunch clubs, Zoom choirs and theatre workshops, gardening, activity packs and walking groups.

Emma Ackerman, Deputy Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are delighted to be able to give further funding to the Ageing Better partnerships in England thanks to support from National Lottery players.”

Stephen Raybould, Programme Director for Ageing Better in Birmingham, said: “We know how difficult this year has been for many people, and while the response from communities during lockdown was extraordinary, continuing the programme means we can ensure people don’t miss out on the support and connections they need as we move forward.

“We will continue to invest in neighbourliness and community action on the streets of Birmingham and look forward to building on the work that has taken place in collaboration with our partner organisations and active citizens across the city.”