News Article

SERIO at Plymouth University set to evaluate a £15million programme aimed at tackling social isolation and loneliness among older people in Torbay.


Researchers at Plymouth University have been awarded a six year contract to evaluate the Ageing Well Torbay Programme. The team includes staff from SERIO, an applied research unit and Ian Sheriff and Professor Ray Jones.

Prof. Ray Jones specialises in research related to e-health, while Ian Sheriff is a leading figure in dementia policy, advising the Government on how to create dementia friendly communities.

Ageing Well Torbay is one of fourteen national partnership programmes that make up the Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme funded by the Big Lottery. With a value of approximately £15million (£6million of which has been secured from the Big Lottery with a further estimated £9million in volunteer time and match funding) the programme aims to change the lives of Torbay’s elderly residents by testing new approaches towards to reduce isolation and loneliness.

Forty-five percent of Torbay’s population is over 50. It is estimated that 6,000 of these residents are isolated because of reasons such as retirement, the loss of a loved one, low income, poor health, lack of transport and mobility issues.

The Ageing Well Torbay programme aims to tackle these issues by creating a sense of neighbourliness and reconnecting older people with friends, their communities and where they live. The programme also aims to increase a sense of personal value and purpose among the elderly community, encouraging them to view older age as an opportunity.

“The big question faced by the programme is does it work?” says Justin Wiggin the AWT Programme Manager at the Torbay Community Development Trust. “The research team at Plymouth University will be helping us answer this question over the next six years through a programme of rigorous evaluation research.” As with all parts of the Ageing Well programme older people’s involvement will be a key feature of the evaluation. Plymouth University will be working with a team of Citizen Evaluators, people who live / work in Torbay to evaluate services and activities and help shape the way Ageing Well Torbay is delivered in the future.

Current projects funded by the Ageing Well Torbay programme include:

  • Mutual Caring, a Mencap project supporting people with learning disabilities who have become carers
  • Circles of Support offered by Carers Trust Phoenix which aims to reduce isolation and loneliness through development of person centric support network
  • Wellbeing Coordination provided by AgeUK Torbay and Brixham Does Care a programme based on the successful Living Well pilot run in Cornwall in 2014-2015
  • In addition, the Torbay Community Development Trust is developing a Neighbourhoods model as part of its asset based approach, identifying local people as connectors and builders to help implement a range of activities including timebanks across the region.

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