Location: Available in the following Age UK local areas:  Blackburn with Darwen, Cheshire East, Exeter, Hillingdon, Lancashire, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Rotherham, Warwickshire, West Cumbria

About: Fit for the future is a programme involving 11 local Age UKs in England, which supports older people with long-term conditions, and aims to improve their physical and mental wellbeing by delivering real, sustainable change in the provision of integrated services and activities. It has a person-centred approach, with a trained staff member or volunteer meeting with individual older people to agree a personal, tailored plan to suit their health and wellbeing needs and then supporting them to access relevant services such as exercise groups.

Activities available on the project range from dance, cycling and swimming to lessons in cooking, gardening and eating healthily. The model receives referrals from GPs and healthcare professionals, as well as from friends and relatives, and other local voluntary sector and/or Age UK services. The project’s evaluators have found that participants responded positively to invitations to join the project primarily because they wished to meet new people.

Age UK provides initial support to attend a group, which might include going along with the participant or assisting with transport arrangements, until the participant is confident to attend independently.

Fit for the future is funded by the Big Lottery as part of its wellbeing portfolio – receiving £2.2m. Initial results from surveys carried out among clients at the start of the project and then after several months are demonstrating positive change against a number of measures, including:

  • Increase in numbers reporting that they never/hardly ever lack companionship
  • Increase in numbers reporting that they never/hardly ever feel isolated
  • Increase in numbers reporting that they never/hardly ever felt left out

The full evaluation, due in June 2015, will capture any reductions in the number of unplanned GP or hospital visits. Surveys so far have captured promising data, including a small reduction in the numbers of people experiencing a fall or loss of balance.

Participant Quote:

“Gets me out of the house and talking to people that I wouldn’t normally get the chance to.

Who: Age UK

Age UK
Tavis House
1-6 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9NA

Tel: 020 303 31686

Web: www.ageuk.org.uk/fit-as-a-fiddle/fit-for-the-future/