Earlier this month, LinkAge were invited to an international symposium, Potentials of Old Age which was organised by the Korber Foundation, aimed at 120 stakeholders, decision-makers and experts from German municipalities, political and administrative bodies, associations, businesses, academia and civil society. LinkAge's Chief Executive Claire Miller, Board members Richard Jarratt and Kay Russell and LinkAge participant Bob Harris attended the two day conference.
The conference’s aim was to look at the current demographic position within Germany, positive approach to civic engagement and participation in older age and learning from best practice from international projects. LinkAge were invited to talk about the work that we undertake within Bristol.
The conference was structured to ensure that it was dynamic, thought provoking but that it was also a catalyst to positive change in different municipalities across Germany. The different projects that were showcased were presented, questioned, unpicked and then the delegates were challenged to identify the keys to the success of the different projects.
The discussions throughout the day mirrored a lot of the discussion that have been taking place locally and nationally and to me key headline points to successful projects that lead to more cohesive and supportive communities are:
- Strong partnership working between the voluntary sector and local/national government and within the voluntary sector. Collaborative and complementary approaches are the way forward – not competitive processes which can be destructive.
- Need to understand and respect what is already taking place and look at how successful projects can flourish. You can then establish where the gaps are and take positive steps to address them.
- An asset based approach to people across society.
- Co-production and community led projects will ensure that the needs of the community are understood and addressed. This will also help to stimulate civic engagement and support for the work and developments.
- Passion and professionalism are important characteristics for organisations that work with communities. It is also important that there are clear and transparent goals and objectives that people understand, can engage with and feel part of.
- Need to challenge society’s stereotypes and provide more opportunities for the different generations to learn from each other.
We met some very inspiring people at the conference and heard about some very entrepreneurial projects and interesting sociological perspectives that have given us all a lot of food for thought!
I hope that we can continue to build the relationships that we developed and incorporate the learning from the symposium into what we do so that we can continue to develop and enhance LinkAge and the lives of older people across Bristol.
Thank you to Lisa Veyhl and Betina Psyk from the Korber Foundation who visited LinkAge, invited us to the conference and looked after us!
Thank you also to the Korber Foundation for their wonderful hospitality, we had a very warm welcome, were incredibly well looked after and made to feel very at home and special throughout the symposium. We are very grateful for being allowed to participate in such a well run, creative and diverse symposium and discussion.