One of the outcomes of the Silverlinks project was to pilot an “older-person friendly” audit in a local community. The aim of the audit is that it will enable older people within a neighbourhood to have a voice about what’s important to them in their area – what suits them well, and what could be improved – with the aim that the results of the audit are used to influence local decision making.
The audit was based in Otley, just outside Leeds. Barbara developed the questionnaire which was looked over by a volunteer who is a retired academic who has worked in the field of market research for 25 years.
Barbara then worked alongside Otley Town Council and Otley Action for Older People to
promote the audit and distributed 350 questionnaires to older people in the area, mainly distributed through working with Otley Action for Older People. We had a fantastic response rate of 75 completed questionnaires returned.
The questionnaire covered topics such as access to and cleanliness of public toilets, access to public transport, seating, the condition of pavements, availability and accessibility of activities and events, time allowed at crossing points and general safety of the area.
There were some interesting themes – for example around half of respondents felt that there were too few crossing points, and that these did not allow enough time to cross the road safely. Many of the respondents (67%) expressed concern about the level of traffic in the town centre. Other themes were concern over the number of empty buildings in the area, and there was a certain level of satisfaction about accessibility and availability of social activities and events in the area, and the provision of public transport.
Only 35% of respondents felt that the views of older people were considered by local decision makers. We hope to change this by presenting the report of our findings to Otley Town Council, who are in the process of writing their neighbourhood plan and have asked for responses to a public consultation. We would like our audit to provide a voice for older people within the community to have their say on what matters to them.
In the new year, we hope to carry out two further audits within Leeds, in different areas.