Creating “age friendly” cities in the UK and Brazil

MANCHESTER Met academics are involved in a three-year project to investigate how older populations in the UK and Brazil experience cities.

Prof Rebecca Lawthom, Professor of Community Psychology, and Dr Jenny Fisher, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Care and Social Work, are part of a team made up of five UK Higher Education Institutes and academic partners in Brazil leading the research.

The project will engage with the community and investigate how older people experience a ‘sense of place’ in different social settings and diverse neighbourhoods in six cities in Brazil (Pelotas, Porto Alegre, Brasilia) and the UK (Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh).

Rebecca and Jenny said: “Ageing populations in Brazil and the UK have generated new challenges in how to best design living environments that support and promote everyday social engagement for older people.”

International collaboration

brazil academics
Rebecca and Jenny with academics from Brazil

“Through this international project, we want to identify and address the barriers older generations face in different cultural communities in order to create more integrated, “age-friendly” cities.

“Collaborating internationally means we are able to learn from our colleagues in Brazil and share our own experiences. We look forward to working with them and hope that in the long term, the project can make life better for older people in cities all over the world.”

A group of academics from Brazil recently visited Manchester Metropolitan University to meet Rebecca, Jenny and Prof Alison Chambers, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care. They also explored the “age-friendly” aspects of the city and the on-going University projects that aim to tackle social isolation including the Manchester School of Architecture and Southway Housing Trust’s £10 million project led by Dr Stefan White.

The £800,000 research project funded by ESRC-Newton will contribute to designs for age friendly cities by getting communities to contribute to planning and design concepts. In the past, urban planning and development models have overlooked the notion of ‘sense of place’ that is essential for supporting active ageing and ensuring that older adults can continue to make a positive contribution in their communities.