We decided to create an Age-friendly Neighbourhoods Toolkit after learning that small changes make a huge difference to quality of life for older people. Whilst creating the toolkit we interviewed a variety of older people from communities across Bristol about their experiences of developing their neighbourhoods. You can read about Gloria's experience below.
"I’ve lived in Bristol for 61 years, having moved to the UK from Jamaica as a young woman. I trained as a nurse following the Queen’s invitation to people from commonwealth countries to come and join the National Health Service. Bristol is a great place to be as there is so much going on, and if you look for them, there are so many welcoming community groups out there for people who feel lonely or unheard.
I worked as a nurse until I was 58, and when I retired I still wanted to be able to help people every day. One of the most rewarding ways I do this is helping to run the Golden Agers club in Easton, which is a social and wellbeing group that has been running since 1991. It started when a group of elders at my church expressed that they would like to spend time together after the morning service, but there was nowhere to go. It’s now open to anyone from the wider community and we offer sewing classes, exercise, IT classes and a delicious shared meal. We manage to keep going despite not having much funding, as we have very talented members who fundraise by selling items they’ve sewn or knitted. The food is especially important – for some people who aren’t able to cook due to health conditions or financial difficulties, it’s the only homecooked food they have, so we try to make sure people can take home extra portions if they wish.
I also keep really busy advising charities and forums on how they can support older people from diverse backgrounds. I’m a Trustee of Bristol Older People’s Forum and help to plan the Celebrating Age Festival. It’s an honour to be able to represent the voice of other people in my community who are less able.
As I get older, I am finding that I have more physical challenges to deal with, so I have had to adapt my busy lifestyle slightly, but my energy for helping people hasn’t changed. I take strength from my faith and my community – each day that I am able to get up and do something, I know that there are others who need my help. That’s how I was brought up; before you eat, you feed the others in your community who need it most."