Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament's Energy, Industry and Research Committee, has congratulated the Older People for Older People (O4O) project which has won the RegioStars 2012 Awards category “Inclusive Growth: Strategies, initiatives or projects addressing the challenge of demographic change and supporting active ageing”.
The award, presented at a ceremony during the Regions for Economic Change Conference in Brussels, was accepted by Kate Stephen, from the Centre for Rural Health in Inverness, who managed the project in the Highlands and took over as Project Lead in the final stages, and Jim Millard from the Scottish Government, national representative on the Northern Periphery Programme Monitoring Committee.
O4O was led by the Centre for Rural Health, a collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Other partners in the
project were located in Sweden, Finland, Greenland and Northern Ireland.
"Big congratulations to the Older People for Older People project team! This award is well-deserved and is recognition of the efforts of the team. To be picked out of 107 submissions from across the EU is an incredible achievement.
"I am proud that a Scottish-led project has been recognised for the good work it has done for older people in rural areas, but most particularly in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This sort of competition highlights the big advantages that the EU offers Scotland, in promoting best practice and sharing experience.
"Again, my congratulations to the Older People for Older People project team."
RegioStars Awards is a competition to select the best among all regional development projects funded by the European Union. The aim of RegioStars, the Award for Innovative Projects, is to identify good practices in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects that could be attractive and inspiring to other regions. This year, the European Commission received a record number of 107 applications.
The O4O project was designed in response to the increasing proportions of older people in Europe; especially peripheral regions such as the Northern Periphery which have a higher percentage of older people compared with central urban regions. The difficulties of providing services to older people in remote and rural areas and suggestions that citizens can take a more active role in service design and delivery were the basis for the project idea.
The project empowered older people to identify their needs and supported them to develop a variety of social organisations that will provide the services to meet those needs. The innovative aspect is that the people providing the services to older people are older people themselves. The objective is to improve the quality of life for older people, so they can stay and live healthily and happily in their own homes for a longer period. Although the project is finished, many of the services developed by older people in the rural communities involved continue. The experiences and learning established during the project have been captured and presented in the O4O Toolkit - a 'manual' that will enable the start-up of O4O-type services in further communities throughout the Northern Periphery and beyond.
A video about the winning O4O project can be found on the RegioStars website, www.ec.europa.eu/regiostars. More details about the O4O project are available on their website, www.o4os.eu.