Take a seat
Nottingham’s campaign to create more age-friendly high streets
Age-friendly Nottingham is a partnership of citizens, organisations, academics and service providers who work together to ensure that older citizens:
- Live fulfilling lives
- Feel valued by all sections of society
- Live as independently as possible
- Play an active role in their local communities
Led by Nottingham City Council, Age-friendly Nottingham joined the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities in 2014 and is determined to make the city a great place to grow older.
Take a seat aims to tackle issues of social isolation and motivate older people to feel confident about leaving their homes and play an active part in their local communities. It does this by encouraging local businesses and community premises to join the campaign and offer people a chance to take a seat and ‘catch their breath’.
Participating members receive ‘We are age-friendly’ window stickers, a branded fold-up chair, and ‘Take a seat’ tote shopping bags to help them promote the scheme – all funded by the City Council. They’re also encouraged to go a step further by making toilet facilities available and offering tea, coffee or a glass of water. When an older person sees the sticker displayed, they can be sure of a warm welcome and the offer of a seat. There are no strings attached and no pressure for them to make a purchase.
Local signatories in Nottingham include shops, department stores, building societies, cafés , pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, travel agents and more. This is a real world example of what being an age-friendly community looks like in practice.
Age-friendly Nottingham launched its Take a seat campaign in September 2015. The initial roll-out was supported by Age-friendly Manchester who, having been inspired by a similar project in New York, were the first to implement the campaign in the UK.
The campaign began to take shape when a group of older citizens came together to design an Older Citizens’ Charter which was launched by Nottingham City Council in October 2014. The Charter sets out the city’s aims to improve the quality of life and promote the independence of its older residents – Take a seat is just one part of this.
Take a seat was first piloted in September 2015 in the Nottingham suburb of Clifton. With more than 300 premises signed up across 28 local areas, it has grown from strength-to-strength.
Why it matters
Most of us want to stay in our own homes and communities as we age. Living in, and feeling part of an age-friendly and supportive community can help people feel in control. Take a seat offers a way for older people to develop and maintain social connections, it also encourages them to get out and about, be physically active and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Fiona, a retired university lecturer, was first made aware of Take a seat having seen it in the media and across a number of shops. She describes the initiative and having the opportunity to sit down when needed as 'tremendous', making her life much easier.
With Nottingham being hilly in areas, Fiona doesn't always find it easy to get out and about. Encouraging local shops to offer seats, however, means that she has the comfort of knowing she can sit down and have a rest at any moment. This is especially important with space being a premium in shops and seats having become more sparse. But Take a seat means that older people's wants and needs aren't being neglected.
It's good for business
For businesses, being age-friendly and accessible helps build a ‘caring’ and trusted brand – a valuable proposition given the demographic of their prospective customers. By 2024, there will be 18 million people aged 60 and over – 3.1 million more than today. More than one in four of us will be over 60.
A shift from traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ shopping to online, and increasingly expensive business rates, threatens the life blood of the high street. We also know that people aged 65 and over are significantly less likely to be online than younger people (ONS 2016).
Take a seat cuts across the ‘digital shopping divide’ by bringing older consumers back into neighbourhood shops and businesses as well as city centre department stores.
Find out more
We want more people to live in age-friendly communities – that’s why we’re working in collaboration with the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities to bring about change and promote better use of evidence and learning at the local level.