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Melksham to become UK’s first age-friendly town?

MELKSHAM Seniors Group have ambitious plans to turn Melksham into an ‘age-friendly town’.

The group wants to see the town transformed to meet the needs of its aging population.

Many cities around the world have launched campaigns to become ‘age-friendly’ but Melksham Seniors believe Melksham could become one of the first small towns to do so and the first in the UK.

They hope Melksham will become a template and beacon for other towns to follow.

Members of the Seniors group are meeting with the charity Ageing Better to discuss the possibility of turning Melksham into an age- friendly community. The seniors group is having ongoing discussions with the charity to agree a partnership that would see Melksham make a number of changes to the town that would ensure that people of all ages can actively participate in the community.

“The key aims of our age-friendly project would be about changing and improving aspects of our community to make Melksham more age friendly,” explained Brian Warwick, chair for the Melksham and District Seniors Forum.

“We would create a vision for an age-friendly Melksham, one where older people have good access to all retailing, leisure and essential services.

“We would need to work closely with older people and partners from across the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to make Melksham more age-friendly, supporting local examples of change as well as looking at how we can influence decisions and practices that will embed age-friendly attitudes into all aspects of the town.”

The seniors group already have a vision as to what an age-friendly Melksham might look like.

“A place where older people in Melksham have good high standard accommodation that meets their needs and feel heard and have a say in decision-making on things that affect their lives.

“Where they can access the work and volunteering opportunities they want and can also access available activities when and where they want.

“A place where outdoor spaces and buildings are more accessible to meet their needs.

“A community where older people in Melksham feel connected, helping them to feel like they are accepted and a desirable key part of the town.

“Better access to appropriate health, social care and well being services and also access to IT and Wifi facilities.”

Using feedback from local focus groups and the Older People’s Seniors Forum, the group have plans to launch an Age Friendly Melksham Charter in the new year that will encourage local business and industries as well as public, private, voluntary and community sectors to contribute actions or opportunities to meet the charter’s vision.

The seniors group are looking for people from the community to help shape and move forward the vision of an age-friendly town.

“We  need your opinions and we shall be soon be looking for champions to progress the work through action groups and engagement with decision makers. Are you or your organisation or business prepared to help in making Melksham an age-friendly community?

“Would you like to contribute your views and ideas and work with us as part of an action group? We propose to hold a public meeting early in the autumn with decision makers and representatives from national bodies to discuss our vision for Melksham.

“Please e-mail melkshamseniors55@outlook.com if you would like an invitation to that meeting or be part of one of the action groups.”

More information about Ageing Better, visit www.ageing-better.org.uk