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‘A legacy for future generations’ Melksham is first town to join age-friendly network

John Pritchard, Ange Jones, Brian Warwick, Terri Welch

MELKSHAM has become the first rural town in the country to join the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities.

The landmark moment follows months of campaigning by the Melksham age-friendly steering group which is working towards making changes and improvements to the town that would ensure that people of all ages can actively participate in the community.

The group will now continue to work towards achieving age-friendly status and being recognised by the World Health Organisation and joining the global network of age-friendly communities.

“I’m absolutely thrilled!” said Brian Warwick, member of the Melksham age-friendly steering group and chair of Melksham Seniors. “It is going to be quite a challenge over the next 5 to 10 years, but it is incredible that Melksham is moving forward with this. It is such an honour.

“There’s a lot of work to be done to achieve age-friendly status. It won’t be done overnight, but we will get there. This is about leaving a legacy for future generations.

“We now need people to work in close partnership to achieve this. We need the town and parish councils, local organisations, businesses and the community to pull together as a team. Whatever we do will improve life for both older and younger people in the town; it will benefit the whole community. Becoming age-friendly is not just about making the town more accessible, it’s about improving all areas of the town and making it a better environment to live in for all.

“One area we can all help is by improving the cleanliness of the town, which is something I feel needs to be pushed to the forefront. The amount of litter and cigarette butts that can be found around the town is unacceptable – we need to educate young and old about this.

“I am determined that Melksham will achieve ‘age-friendly’ status and be recognised by the World Health Organisation.”

The announcement that Melksham is joining the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities was made by Ange Jones from the Centre for Ageing Better at this month’s area board meeting.

The meeting focussed on the subject of becoming age-friendly and attendees were asked to generate ideas for projects that the area board could help to deliver as part of Melksham’s ambition to receive age-friendly status.

Over 40 ideas for projects were generated at the meeting. Melksham community engagement manager, Rhys Schell said, “The two most popular ideas were for local businesses to make it clearer that they are safe, welcoming, staff are trained, and customers can take a seat or have a glass of water.

“The second most popular idea was for a community toilet scheme. This either involves re-investment into public toilets, or more work with local organisations and businesses to make them accessible.

“The area board will now look over all of the ideas and select which projects we can help move forward with and deliver.”

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