How can we combat older people’s isolation in the context of COVID-19? (Catherine Leyshon and Jen Siggs)

By Catherine Leyshon and Jen Siggs

Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe (HAIRE) is a project operating in eight rural communities – two each in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK (Cornwall and East Sussex) –that seeks to address loneliness and isolation in rural areas, not least in the context of COVID-19.  The programme combats loneliness by empowering people to grow social innovation from the ground up, and looks to address problems including poor public transport, lack of local support and service. HAIRE will encourage older people to:

  • define what support they need.
  • participate in the design and delivery of services.
  • develop solutions for themselves to reduce loneliness and improve quality of life, health and wellbeing.

As well as increasing community vitality, and producing a “tool kit” – a set of steps that could be used in any neighbourhood and at any time to identify problems and solutions that will improve people’s lives – the researchers hope to get older people actively involved in service design and delivery at a much more strategic level.  The project is funded through a grant of 5.3 million euros (£4.5m) from the ‘Interreg 2 Seas ERDF’ programme of the European Union.

Further reading:
Healthy Ageing Through Innovation on Rural Europe


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