Silver Sunday: Community catalyst and collaboration inspiration

March 15, 2019   By John Barradell, Chief Executive, City of London Corporation and Chairman of the Sir Simon Milton Foundation; Georgina Creighton, Silver Sunday Lead, The Sir Simon Milton Foundation

“Thanks for this short bright moment in a very gloomy world” – Silver Sunday guest

Last week when I opened the NLGN Annual Conference, I cited “Silver Sunday” as an exemplar of community collaboration in tackling isolation and loneliness among older people. Silver Sunday is a national day for older people. It started in 2012 against a backdrop of austerity with 19 fun and free events held for older residents in Westminster. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and burst beyond the boundaries of Westminster. Last year there were 1,000 free events across the UK attended by tens of thousands of older people.

Its success stems from two simple truths. Firstly loneliness in older people is growing; loneliness can – and often does – affect us all and we can all do something about it. Secondly our communities all have powerful change makers who, when armed with the tools, resources and support they need, can create significant impact. It exemplifies the ‘Trojan Mice’ concept (with thanks to Angela Catley from Community Catalysts) of simple actions nibbling away at a systemic problem – and succeeding.

We talk about Silver Sunday as bridging divides and that everyone is welcome. Charities and organisations that already work with older people all year round are embracing Silver Sunday for its uplifting, celebratory feel with festivals and parties, knowing that people across the country are recognising the value and contribution older people give to our society. Local authorities work with local groups, charities and businesses to create programmes of activities for their older residents. School children visit care homes and older people’s groups to spark intergenerational joy. Cultural institutions and libraries open their doors with accessible learning experiences to bridge the technological divides some older people are experiencing. Walking football tournaments reignite a competitive team spirit in retirees seeking companionship and purpose. Change agents are provided with the platform and tools to make a difference for an issue that matters.

Silver Sunday is a powerful vehicle to draw attention to the problem of loneliness amongst older people and catalyse action across society, local authorities, businesses and the care and charitable sectors to create opportunities to bring people together. In 2019 we have an ambitious goal to reach 100,000 older people across the UK through 2,000 events – doubling our impact of the previous year. One of our strategic goals for this year is to encourage more local programmes similar to those in Cheshire, Salisbury, Westminster, Barnet and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea last year creating local ‘hot spots’ of activities for older people around the country.

Whether Local Authorities take the lead or provide practical, facilitation, communication or financial support to community-led or charity driven programmes, the impact can be significant. At one of our larger events last year of 1,000 over 65s an incredible 88% of guest said they had made new friends during the afternoon of tea and dancing.

As well as being able to reach a much greater proportion of the older population, the spectrum of events and activities cater to the varying needs and interests of the older generation – from active sports to entertainment for the house-bound. Older people are given more opportunities to keep their minds and bodies active, learn new skills, make new friends and connect with the communities and generations around them.

How can Local Authorities get involved?

  • Spread the word about Silver Sunday, the collective aim and encourage local community involvement in celebrating older people this October
  • Encourage existing older people’s groups and organisations to create Silver Sunday themed events in October
  • Facilitate a central coordination of community collaboration to put your own spin on Silver Sunday in your local area – inspiring change agents to bring the campaign to life
  • Work with local businesses to contribute venues, resources, activities, entertainment, refreshments, volunteers or funding towards Silver Sunday events
  • Share your ambitions and successes to help the impact grow

We are very happy to help you co-create a Silver Sunday programme in your local area and provide advice on community partnerships and collaboration. We invite all Change Agents and Trojan Mice to visit our Silver Sunday website and to get in touch with us via info@silversunday.org.uk.

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