Council tackles loneliness and isolation in a week of celebratory events for older people

1Darts team at the Sundail Centre

Members of the darts team at the Sundial Centre

A week of activities, talks, workshops and other events will take place across the borough, as Tower Hamlets Council alongside voluntary, health and community organisations mark United Nations International Day for Older Persons (UNIDOP) on 1 October.

In 2015, there were an estimated 16,700 people aged 65 or over living in Tower Hamlets. It is expected that this number will increase to 26,700 by 2030.

This year’s celebrations coincide with the tenth anniversary year of the LinkAge Plus programme - aimed at reducing isolation among residents over the age of 50, helping them to achieve a better quality of life and improved physical and mental well-being.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “Growing older should not reduce a person’s dignity and fundamental rights. Our International Day for Older Persons celebrations, which fall in the tenth anniversary year of our flagship LinkAge Plus scheme, reaffirm our commitment to promoting the independence, health and well-being of older residents.”

LinkAge Plus supports older people through its network of five centres funded by the council and Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group.

The centres - Toynbee Hall in Aldgate East; the Sundial Centre in Bethnal Green; Sonali Gardens in Shadwell; Age UK in Bow; and Neighbours in Poplar, will each host a celebration during the week, with the launch day at Toynbee Hall.

Sir Sam Everington, local GP and chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:  “Supporting people to remain healthy and active as they grow older is a priority for us in Tower Hamlets – age should be no barrier to a good quality of life.

“The International Day for Older Persons is the ideal time to highlight the valuable contribution made by the LinkAge Plus service in reducing isolation, and helping older people in Tower Hamlets to live independent and fulfilling lives.” 

The theme of this year’s UNIDOP is Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions. Events in Tower Hamlets will focus on priorities in the borough’s Ageing Well strategy such as: reducing isolation and loneliness; boosting independence and well-being; and making a positive contribution to the community. 

Earlier this year, Councillor Denise Jones, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing was named Older People’s Champion. Cllr Jones is tapping into the borough’s diverse network of older residents to promote their interests. 

Cllr Jones said: “Older people in our community are as diverse as the society in which we live. I am glad that we are celebrating this with a week of activities that highlight our support for older residents to lead healthier, happier lives.” 


Case study

Regulars at the Sundial Centre in Bethnal Green are among those who say they benefit from the LinkAge Plus scheme.

The centre in Shipton Street hosts daily activities from fitness classes, ballet and dance workshops, to coffee mornings, computer and IT training, knitting sessions and a darts group.

Gloria Lacey, 80, says she first started going along to the centre 10 years ago and attends four days a week to take part in activities including bingo, exercise, ballet, singing in a choir, knitting and darts.

“It saves me sitting in my flat looking at the four walls. I mainly come along for the company. The exercise also keeps my muscles going,” Gloria said.

Keith Clarke, 61 plays darts with a group that meets at the centre on Friday afternoons.

“I retired earlier this year and have been playing darts ever since. It’s a nice way to meet people, get out of the house and have fun. Playing darts is also my way of keeping fit. We are playing in a tournament with Sonali Gardens (another LinkAge Plus centre) later this month,” Keith said.


Celebration dates and times:

  • Monday 1 October, 11am-3pm

Toynbee Hall, 52 OId Castle Street, E1 7AJ

T: 020 7987 0257

  • Tuesday 2 October, 11am-3pm

Sundial Centre, 11 Shipton Street, E2 7RU

T: 0203 828 3928

  • Wednesday October 3, 12.30-4pm

Sonali Gardens, Tarling East Community Centre, 63 Martha Street, Shadwell, E1 2PA

T: 0207 265 9292

Thursday 4 October, 11am-3pm

AgeUK East London, Caxton Community Centre, Caxton Hall, E3 2EE

T: 0208 981 7124

  • Friday 5 October, 11am-3pm

Neighbours in Poplar, St. Mathias Community Centre, 13 Poplar High Street, E14 0AE

T: 0207 987 0257

Posted on Tuesday 25th September 2018