About: The Leeds Seniors Network aims to work with and enhance natural linkages; skilling up local people to be even more effective at making connections, and supporting networks and groups. The overall aim is to support older people to live longer at home, have an active social life and remain integrated in their local community.
It is part of the SeNS European Project (Seniors Network Support) and is based around the idea of developing better networks and connections between older people and their friends/families in local communities.
There are two elements to the SeNS project in Leeds:
1. Recruiting Community Connectors through an asset based community development (ABCD) approach in three areas of the city – Calverley, Middleton and Harehills;
Three third sector Neighbourhood Network Schemes have been commissioned to act as Community Builders to recruit volunteer ‘Community Connectors’ to identify and connect with people who are not already engaged with groups and activities and to support them to turn their ideas for community activity into actions.
These individuals come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a whole range of ‘day jobs’ – they are selected because of their strong networks in the community and their willingness to help make things happen. Each area has a small amount of seed funding (Small Sparks Fund), to help develop actions.
2. Linking virtual and actual networks:
This programme helps individuals, groups and organisations who work with older people to improve their IT skills, with a view to helping those older people who cannot get out and about to maintain their connections and join groups using the Internet. The project cost £84k in total, which was 50 per cent funded by the European Union and matched by Leeds City Council. Part of the funding was to cover management of the project, part to award as small grants to seed fund ideas and activities.
The project is being independently evaluated. The learning from the SeNS project will be rolled out as part of Time to Shine, a city wide initiative, being funded as part of the Big Lottery Fund Ageing Better Programme.
“The people I have connected have helped each other. I won’t say they’ve necessarily become close friends, but it’s about other people feeling useful and helping them feel useful, that they still have skills….The thing I feel most proud about is that I got people talking to each other.”
Who: SeNS European Project and Leeds City Council
1-6 Tavistock Square
Leeds, LS1 1UR
Tel: 0113 222 4444