Jo Stapleton, Ageing Better in Camden, Good Practice Mentor, Outreach Specialist (Age UK Camden).
Jo Stapleton shares findings from a Social action research report, commissioned by Age UK Camden, Outreach Service, part of the 2015-March 2022, Ageing Better in Camden programme funded by Lottery Community Fund. The report shines a light on the research undertaken across Camden with 36 older men engaged on the streets, in pubs and living in sheltered housing.
The project was created in response to a need to proactively find and engage with the older people ‘no-body knows’ through the outreach service. These were individuals less likely to be in contact with or to access formal services and support. The service approached and engaged with substantive numbers of older men through outreach activity, many of whom were happy to engage and expressed a desire for social connection but were often reluctant to access or consider joining formal community groups or activities. This research enabled the Outreach Service to gain valuable insight about what successful social connection looks like for isolated older men.
Insight gained from older men included:
- A preference to meet in ‘neutral’ spaces – pubs, cafés, parks, or libraries. Community Centres often perceived as ‘not for me’ spaces.
- Men were put off if an activity was advertised too formally “I wouldn’t go to something called a men’s club or group”
- A preference for informal ‘as and when’ drop-in type activities
- Many older men prefer to connect socially via ‘informal social hubs’. Examples included meeting companions in the pub, via book sharing in sheltered housing or chatting with peers in the changing rooms after a swim.
Key learning and next steps:
For many reluctant to engage older men, a funnel and focus toward formal activities may not be the answer. In response, the Outreach Service went on to explore and develop informal social hubs and pop-up activities in neutral spaces to provide an alternative route to engaging older men and foster social connections.
The ‘Connecting men to their communities’ report and how we subsequently applied this learning to foster social connection between older men can be found here.
For more information or to access free outreach training to find and engage the older people ‘no-one knows’, please contact: email@example.com