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Brunel University's Centre for Citizen Participation in project to improve wellbeing of older people

The WRVS has been awarded £497,000 from the BIG Lottery to investigate the best ways to encourage older people to help each other to improve their health and well-being.

The project is the first of its kind to focus on how people themselves can help each other to improve their health and live well for longer.

The project starts up in April 2010 and will run for three years. In the first year there will be a national consultation with older people on what they want in place to live well in old age. Followed by two years of work in five areas of the UK where project workers will develop new ways of engaging older people to help each other to improve their quality of life.

Professor Peter Beresford said:
“This is a groundbreaking project which I am proud to be associated with, linking the advancement of older people's wellbeing with their active involvement. The belief that the two are inseparable lies at the heart of this major new initiative. It will build on older people's own knowledge and wisdom to improve policy, practice and their lives, fully involving them in the process.“

The results will change the way WRVS helps older people and the charity believes it will change the whole way we approach living well in old age, challenging national and local government, health authorities and other partners to enable people to help each other and themselves.

WRVS chief executive Lynne Berry said:
“This is brilliant news. I want to thank the BIG Lottery Fund for investing in this vital piece of work. With this project we will get right to the heart of how older people can help each other to improve their life and confidently face the challenges that come with growing old. We'll develop and test innovative new ways to engage people in communities and get them working together to find the solution to the challenges they face. We're aiming to show how with a bit of support from community organisations, local public services and central government, people can change their own lives for the better.“

In addition to Professor Beresford, WRVS has joined forces with Jennie Fleming, Centre for Social Action, De Montfort University.

The WRVS project already has backing from the Department for Work and Pensions (lead government department on older people), Department of Health, the Scottish Government, and the Wales Wellbeing Network. The charity wants to involve as many national and local partner organisations from across the field of older people's services as possible in the project.
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For further information contact Paul Twocock, WRVS head of media and public affairs, 07714 898625./

1. WRVS is one of the largest voluntary organisations in Britain with around 53,000 men and women helping older people to stay independent at home and active in their community. WRVS also supports patients and visitors in over 300 hospitals through its shops, cafés and support services and has teams of volunteers on call night and day to support people caught up in emergencies or disasters
2. WRVS regularly helps over 100,000 older people to stay independent at home and live how they want in their community, with millions using our hospital-based shops, cafes and support services every year. In an independent report on the charity's impact 90 per cent of the people we helped said we made their life better, 70 per cent said we made it a lot better.
3. Professor Peter Beresford.
Peter Beresford OBE BA Hons, PhD, AcSS, FRSA, DipWP has a longstanding involvement in issues of involvement as writer, researcher, educator and campaigner. He is also Chair of Shaping Our Lives, the independent national user controlled organisation and network.

Centre for Citizen Participation

The Centre for Citizen Participation is one of Brunel University's established research centres. It has an international reputation for undertaking high quality research and development work focused on public, patient and user participation, involving service users, patients and members of the public fully in its work.

The money is part of a £20 million pot set aside for charities and community organisations who want to invest in research that will influence government thinking and improve life for people in communities throughout Britain.