Our project begins with two new social group events in Swansea


Our new groups in Swansea will focus on bringing people together to socialise and form new friendships over coffee, cake and conversation. 

Activities will be based around the likes and interests of group members. We find out what people want from their local community and do our best to make it happen. 

Sessions take place:

TUESDAYS 2.00pm - 4.00pm
Side Room, Upper Killay Recreational Hall, Gower Rd, Upper Killay, Swansea SA2 7HQ

THURSDAYS 10.30am - 12.30pm
Activities Room, West Cross Community Centre, Linden Ave, West Cross, Swansea SA3 5LE

Engaging with the Local Community

Engaging with the community is one of the key ways to solve local problems. Action For Elders new project takes a fresh new approach to social welfare and health issues. 

The strongest indicators of good health are people’s living conditions - such as their housing, friendships and access to green spaces. However, action to improve public health often doesn’t consider or seek to address these issues. This is a particular concern as health inequalities in the UK are widening and the rise in life expectancy is stagnating after decades of improvement.

Better Together is an innovative new project that sets out to build a clearer picture of the conditions which influence health, as part of a programme of work commissioned by the Health Foundation. It aims to understand how to improve the health of older people by tackling one of the key social determinants of poor health: social connections within communities.

The strength of the Better Together project lies in its ability to put larger public bodies such as Public Health Wales together with locally based organisations such as the Action For Elders charity, who have a proven track record of helping older people and an in-depth knowledge of the needs of local communities. Better Together also brings in the expertise of GP surgeries of the Bay Health Cluster Group and SCVS (Swansea Council For Voluntary Service).

Anne Faulkner, Director of Development at Action for Elders Trust, says: "In the most affluent parts of England and Wales, people can expect to live in good health for on average 17 years longer than people in the most deprived areas. This is an urgent concern and Action for Elders is keen to help understand why the gaps in health inequalities are increasing, and how we can address them.”

Better Together puts the key decision makers and health professionals together with local experts to actively engage with the public to tackle loneliness, isolation and improve the health of older people.  

Dr Kirstie Truman, Lead GP for Bay Health Cluster Network, says: “We have noticed an increase in recent years of older patients coming into GP practices for what might be termed social issues. Often they are chronically lonely and just want someone to speak to. One patient said her consultation with me was the longest conversation she had in a month. It's important to work with people in communities to help them find their own solutions to problems which are at the heart of poor health.”

 

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How It Works

Action For Elders, in partnership with Public Health Wales, Bay Health Cluster Network and SCVS will deliver a ‘test & learn’ project to evaluate the impact of community-based group social activity on improving the health of older people in Swansea Bay.

Action For Elders will work with older people within two communities served by Bay Health Cluster Network.

Co-ordinated by a Community Ambassador, Action for Elders will also recruit a Social Host to facilitate two weekly groups focused on building friendship, tackling isolation and loneliness.

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Better Together: The five key phases:

  1. DISCOVERY: At the beginning, we will hold co-design workshops with lonely, isolated older people living within communities to understand their specific needs and interests. This will enable us to design an approach which meets these needs.
  2. ENGAGE: We will brief GPs and other primary health practitioners about the project and through the Community Ambassador we will introduce a referral system to identify older people most in need of our support. The Community Ambassador will also raise awareness of the project with other local networks and encourage self-referral among older people. Better Together volunteer Champions – again recruited from local communities - will be critical in engaging older people and encouraging them to join the programme.
  3. SUPPORT: We will run weekly Better Together groups in two locations, each facilitated by a Social Host - and supported by our Better Together Champions - who will deliver activities based on older people’s needs identified during the co-design. Based on experience, we expect these activities to include group discussions, social eating, group activities such as music and crafts, health information and health literacy, or digital inclusion for health (e.g. using health websites).
  4. EVALUATE: We will design and deliver a mixed-method evaluation; to assess the impact on individual health and importantly, community wellbeing, which we feel will be integral to the success of the project for older people.
  5. SHARE: We will build on our existing networks - particularly the reach and scale of Public Health Wales - and work in close collaboration with the Health Foundation to share our findings widely. We will also encourage older people involved in the project to share their journeys of change through case studies and digital storytelling.

To find out more, please get in touch.

If you’re an older person in Swansea who would like to participate in the new groups, or you know someone who could benefit from support, we’d love to hear from you. We’re also seeking volunteers to help in a range of ways.

You can call us on 030 330 30132 or email: [email protected]