Understanding the relationship between population ageing and urban change is now a major issue for public policy and research. The case for such work is especially strong given that cities are where the majority of people of all ages live and where they will spend their old age.

Nevertheless, cities are largely imagined and structured with a younger, working age demographic in mind. Older people are rarely incorporated into mainstream thinking and planning around urban environments.

The Ageing in Place in Cities project is based in the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group and funded by a five-year Leverhulme grant. This research programme will contribute new knowledge about how urban environments can be developed to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly diverse ageing population.

The research will examine the role of age-friendly policies and initiatives in shaping the experience of ageing in place in seven cities: Akita (Japan), Bilbao (Spain), Brno (Czech Republic), Brussels (Belgium), Manchester (the UK), Oslo (Norway) and Quebec (Canada).

The research builds upon our expertise in developing innovative methods of co-production involving older people in all stages of the research process. 

To mark the start of the Ageing in Place in Cities project a launch event is being held on the 13th July. Three experts on urban ageing will discuss some of the latest research on developing ‘age-friendly cities’. The presentations will explore the challenges involved in meeting the needs of more diverse ageing populations in cities, facing a variety of cultural, economic and social pressures.

The keynote on challenging inequalities in age-friendly practice: alternative approaches to community collaboration will be delivered by Prof. Emily Greenfield (School of Social Work at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey). The focus will be on asking how can the age-friendly movement continue to make progress toward the growing aspirational emphasis on equity in health and ageing. 

As an introduction to the keynote, Tine Buffel will provide an overview of the latest research by the Manchester Urban Ageing Research group, demonstrating how our work contributes to creating ‘spatial justice’ by adopting a transdisciplinary co-production approach; working in partnership with older people, community organisations and local government. To start off the discussion, Paul McGarry (Assistant Director of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, Greater Manchester Combined Authority) will demonstrate the potential for stimulating strategic age-friendly policy approaches at a local and regional level whilst highlighting the pressures facing urban authorities at a time of economic austerity.  You can register for the event online.

The Ageing in Place in Cities project has brought significant investment and grown the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group. We are committed to working in partnership with policy, practice and public stakeholders to promote age-friendly urban environments.

We are looking forward to several new PhD students starting with the research group in September and the continuing of collaborative working with a variety of partners across the globe.

To read or hear more about the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group and the Ageing in Place in Cities project you can explore the research group’s website and watch the introductory project film.

The Ageing in Place in Cities project is the first multi-national comparative study of ageing in place in cities. Through pioneering co-production methods, and contributing to robust evidence for policy-making, we will be helping to create more inclusive and just cities that are sustainable for current and future generations.

This article was written by Patty Doran, Sophie Yarker and Tine Buffel from the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group, contact us at muarg@manchester.ac.uk.