Better lives in Leeds through active ageing

Published : 26/09/2012 00:00

Better lives in Leeds through active ageing

This week is International Active Ageing Week 2012 (23 to 29 September), and Leeds City Council is keen to promote the benefits of keeping minds and bodies active in later years to local residents.

People are living for longer, and the number of over 85s living in Leeds has increased by almost 20% since 2001 and will rise by another 40% in the next 20 years*. This is something we want to celebrate but it also has a direct effect on the health needs and service requirements of the city going forward.

Older people in Leeds can access a range of services and resources to help them continue to live healthy, independent and fulfilling lives for as long as possible.  The council works in partnership with public health, NHS organisations, third sector organisations and wider stakeholders to promote positive outcomes for older people in the city. 

Active ageing is all about preventing illness and encouraging people to enjoy recreation and social interaction through sport and physical activity.  In later years it is also about people being able to maintain mobility, independent living and a good quality of life.

Dementia is one of the greatest challenges facing our ageing society, but it is thought that leading a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce people's risk of developing the condition in later life.  For people with Dementia, remaining physically and mentally active can have a significant impact on a person's well-being providing a welcome distraction from the stresses of the illness, helping them to focus on more positive and fun aspects of life.

Leeds City Council has a range of services that promote active ageing and help people to continue to play an active role in society and live as healthy and fulfilling lives as possible.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for adult social care said:
“The population of the UK is getting older, and the population in Leeds is ageing along  with it!  So we need to be prepared, and make sure that we have support in place to help older people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

“Active ageing is about preventing illness and enjoying recreation and social activities with friends and family.  Regular exercise is really beneficial in helping people to maintain mobility, independent living and therefore their quality of life.

“In Leeds our aim is to help make better lives for people, and I strongly believe that if we can help and encourage people to stay active as they get older, the better their lives will be.”
Neighbourhood Network Schemes provide a wide range of support and activities for older people across Leeds.  The first scheme started in 1985, and now there are over 40 schemes supporting over 25,000 people each year.

The schemes are funded by Leeds City Council, the NHS and they also fundraise in other ways.  They are managed by local people who decide what they want from their scheme, and are run with a lot of help from volunteers – around 100,000 hours each year!  Their work includes giving advice and information, help around the home, healthy living activities, leisure and recreation, help with transport and general support.

For more information about how to find a neighbourhood network near you please visit

Hilda’s story “They call me the ‘drama queen’ at my local drama group!”
Hilda , 85, loves to keep active and has been acting up at the Heydays drama club based at West Yorkshire Playhouse for more than 15 years.  The group is for people who are over 55, and members put on performances and do other creative work, such as painting, singing, arts and crafts and writing. 
When describing her busy schedule Hilda said:
“I’m only really in the house one day a week.  I love the drama group - everyone is so friendly and enthusiastic. They’re very popular too.”
Hilda also attends Halton Moor and Osmondthorpe Project for elders (HOPE) once a week, which is one of the city's neighbourhood networks.  She added:
“I do think that Leeds is a wonderful place to be if you’re an older person.  And HOPE are great; they really go out of their way for you.”

2012 is the European Year of Active Ageing, which aims to raise awareness of the issues facing the ageing population and to improve opportunities for active ageing.   A conference called Ageing Well in Leeds is being held on Tuesday 9 October at Leeds City Museum, 9.30am to 12.30pm.  This event brings together practitioners/professionals and older citizens of Leeds to ensure the effective development of the ageing well programme.  This aims to improve services for older people in Leeds, and promote a more positive attitude towards ageing, seeing it as a positive experience and emphasising the contribution that older people make to society.       
Additional info
A range of activities to support active ageing are available at Leeds City Council leisure centres across the city.  For information and advice please visit

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

* Leeds
Population by age
Population aged 65 and over, projected to 2030

                                                  2012      2015      2020       2025       2030
People aged 65-69              33,500   36,400   32,700    36,300   40,800
People aged 70-74              26,200   27,300   33,300    30,100   33,600
People aged 75-79              23,100   23,600   24,100    29,600   26,900
People aged 80-84              16,800   17,400   18,900    19,700   24,600
People aged 85-89              10,300   10,700   12,000    13,500   14,500
People aged 90 and over      6,700     7,400      8,800    10,800   13,400
Total population 65+           116,600 122,800 129,800 140,000 153,800

Figures may not sum due to rounding
Crown copyright 2012
Figures are taken from Office for National Statistics (ONS) subnational population projections by sex and quinary age. The latest subnational population projections available for England, published 21 March 2012, are based on the 2010 mid year population estimates and project forward the population from 2010 to 2035.

Long term population projections are an indication of the future trends in population by age and gender over a period of 25 years. They are trend based projections, which means assumptions for future levels of births, deaths and migration are based on observed levels mainly over the previous five years. They show what the population will be if recent trends in these continue. The projections do not take into account any future policy changes.