On Wednesday over 100 people attended the launch of the new Age Friendly Banbury partnership at Banbury Town Hall. They were invited to share their views and ideas about what the town is like as a place to grow old – and gave overwhelming support for the project.
Representatives from local community organisations made up the majority of the participants, along with individual older people, businesspeople and local councillors. The event was chaired by High Steward of Banbury Sir Tony Baldry, and started with some brief talks by members of the partnership, followed by four breakout sessions where open discussion took place about community transport, connecting over food, being a good neighbour, and social action.
As part of the consultation process, the Age Friendly Banbury partnership is asking as many people as possible to also complete an online survey with their views about Banbury. This can be completed here.
There was interactive voting at the event, which gave the opportunity to collect live feedback. This showed that only 13% of participants thought that Banbury is currently an age friendly place, and 57% found that public transport was poor. It also revealed that whilst 58% thought that there were good volunteering opportunities out there for older people, 54% felt that communication about what is happening locally was poor, suggesting a gap that could be filled by the Age Friendly Banbury project.
Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Community Foundation Jayne Woodley comments: “The most encouraging thing about the launch was the amount of energy in the room, and the enthusiasm to make something happen – 95% of attendees told us they thought Banbury could become Oxfordshire’s first age friendly town, and 98% said they were willing to help us achieve this. There was a real desire to join up the dots and create more collaboration.”
BBC Radio Oxford featured a discussion about the initiative in their morning show, and the Banbury Guardian and Banbury Sound are supporting the partnership with weekly features about how Age Friendly Banbury is progressing.
The next steps are for the partnership to complete a collation exercise, bringing together all the notes and evaluation comments from the event and proposing actions. In the coming months there will be smaller events and forums, with the partnership proactively going into communities where older people are to ask them for their views.
Crucially, we would like as many older people as possible to complete our survey about current age friendly provision in Banbury. This can be found online here, or if printed versions are preferred, you can call us to request some.