A project led by the Centre for Rural Health which investigated ways to enable older people to live happily and healthily in their homes and communities has won a major European Commission award.
The Older People for Older People (O4O) project has won the RegioStars 2012 Award in the category "Inclusive Growth: Strategies, initiatives or projects addressing the challenge of demographic change and supporting active ageing". The award distinguishes original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other European regions.
The O4O project was supported by the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Aberdeen. It looked at the role of older people in rural life in Scotland, Sweden, Finland, Greenland and Northern Ireland, and helped to devise community support schemes.
"This award recognises the incredible contribution made by older people to their communities," explained project coordinator Kate Stephen who accepted the award at a ceremony in Brussels. "The project has demonstrated that older people themselves are central in developing solutions to the challenges they face. I have been inspired by, and am very proud of their achievements which have improved the lives of many people in villages and rural areas in Europe's Northern Periphery."
O4O helped a community group to form and take over the running of a care centre for the elderly in Lochinver, Assynt, and engaged senior citizens in Ardersier, near Inverness, to make a film of their memories, among other initiatives in the Highlands.
European Commissioner Johannes Hahn for Regional Policy said: "I am pleased to see a project illustrating the benefits of territorial cooperation recognized through the RegioStars awards. It shows that by combining efforts, EU regions can find concrete solutions to the common challenges they face. Partners across Europe's northern periphery have worked closely together to develop new support systems and services for their older citizens living in rural areas. This is indeed an excellent example of the good use of EU investment."
The O4O project was part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Northern Periphery Programme 2007-2013. HIE supports the programme in the Highlands and Islands.