Improving older people's lives
Findings from Professor Thomas Scharf's research into older people and social exclusion has informed a charity campaign and encouraged co-operation between charity and community groups in Manchester and Liverpool.
Research by Professor Thomas Scharf and colleagues examined the lives of older people in socially deprived areas. It was undertaken as part of the ESRC's extensive Growing Older programme, a study of the quality of life in older age consisting of 24 separate research projects. As well as producing new research knowledge, the programme sought to contribute to the development of policies and practices which might extend the quality of people's lives in older age.
The research was conducted in the three most deprived wards of Liverpool, Manchester and Newham in London. It showed that the risks of being exposed to different dimensions of social exclusion were significantly higher for older people in deprived areas than in other parts of the country.
One of the key messages from the research for policymakers was that they needed to take account of the multiple risks of social exclusion in deprived neighbourhoods. Policies that succeed in reducing different forms of exclusion have the potential to significantly enhance the quality of older people's lives.
- The findings from this research were taken up by the charity Help the Aged (now Age UK) in their 'Stop pensioner poverty now' campaign. The research informed the development of the campaign, as well as the charity's work relating to fear of crime.
- The research team has also facilitated on the ground co-operation between Help the Aged and community groups in the study areas, leading to the charity's engagement with Pakistani and Somali communities in Manchester and Liverpool in order to improve older people's living conditions.
- The themes of multiple deprivation identified in the original study fed into A Sure Start to Later Life, the influential report on ending inequalities for older people published by the Government's Social Exclusion Unit in 2006.
- The products of Help the Aged's continuing contact have included the charity commissioning further research on poverty from the research team in 2007.