11 Feb 2020
Leeds City Council's Ageing Well Officer, Carole Clark, gives her account of the differences and similarities in how the communities and organisations in both countries engage with each other.
Members of the Portuguese Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) visited Leeds on Wednesday, 21 November as part of their week long study visit to the UK. They brought with them representatives from partner organisations in Portugal from Lisbon, Sintra, Oeiras, Porto Salvo and Quelez-Belas.
The mission of the AKF Portugal Seniors Program is improving the life of older people through strengthening formal and informal networks, promoting the participation and representation of seniors in society and increasing opportunities for them to become a resource in the community.
In Leeds, the AKF team was particularly interested in learning about our Connect Well Social Prescribing Service, Hospital to Home, and digital projects supporting older people to go online. We gave them a general overview of our Age Friendly work in Leeds. We also talked to them about our Neighbourhood Networks – as I said, ‘they can’t come to Leeds without learning about our fantastic Neighbourhood Networks’.
They were fascinated when Bill, Chair of Leeds Older People’s Forum, explained how the Council listens to and includes the voice of older people in their work. Delegates hoped this could be a new way of working in Portugal.
During their visit they met various people including Cllr Rebecca Charlwood, our lead member for Health Wellbeing and Adults. She chairs our Best City to Grow Old in board. AKF also met with representatives from the council, Age UK Leeds, Leeds Older People’s Forum, the Centre for Ageing Better and Community Links Northern.
Arch Café, which is owned by Age UK Leeds, was the obvious choice for lunch. All the profits from the cafe go directly to support their work with older people.
It was fascinating to learn about the differences and similarities in how the communities and organisations in our respective countries engage with each other.
The Portuguese delegates observed that Leeds’ asset-based approach to working with communities is different to their own approach. They were eager to learn about how co-producing services with communities can help people in later life.
Delegates related to the presentation on digital and described how older people in Portugal grow to love using tablets once they have the opportunity to use them. Just as in Leeds, a lot of older people are keen to use technology once they are shown how it works and how it can help them to do the things that interest them.
Organising an international visit can be time-consuming as you pull a programme together for the day, but once you’ve got the right venue, and the key people to present on the topics, it all falls into place.
I enjoy welcoming visitors to Leeds to learn about our programmes of work and think that it is really important that they learn about what interests them and also have an enjoyable time so that they leave with a positive impression of our city.