Retirement Transition Initiative – Wigan, Coventry and Southampton

Preparing for the retirement transition in Wigan, Coventry and Southampton

Shaftesbury Partnership pilots Retirement Transition Initiative in Wigan, Coventry and Southampton

Mona Bani, Shaftesbury Partnership, July 2015

2015 has been the year of the first ever Retirement Transition Initiative (RTI), supporting dozens of people as they prepare for, or adjust to, the idea and realities of retirement. With the generous support of The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Jaguar Land Rover, The Shaftesbury Partnership has been able to partner with some great community organisations in Coventry, Wigan and Southampton to offer the local community a chance to access free workshops on financial planning, working in later life, pensions, health and wellbeing, volunteering opportunities and family planning, as well as the chance to meet with other people who are approaching the same life transition and build essential local networks.

Since January, over 180 people, from a range of professional backgrounds, including Sainsbury’s, Jaguar Land Rover, Southampton University and city councils, have attended the four RTI weekends, either by themselves or with partners, and the feedback has been very encouraging. A representative from Sainsbury’s HR department commented after the weekend that “the whole concept is fantastic in order to put people on the right track for their future, and we would be delighted to promote the next retirement planning weekend with great enthusiasm”.

Our last two weekends – one in Southampton on 20th-21st June and one in Wigan on 27th-28th June – were equally enjoyable and informative. If you would like further information on how you could support or work with the RTI programme, please contact Or if you would like to attend a programme, you can contact our local delivery partners directly via their websites.

Age of No Retirement event in Manchester

Following the success of ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ at OXO Bargehouse in London in October last year, ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ will be visiting Manchester from 27 to 29 April 2015.

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is a collaborative movement including employers, policymakers, innovators, designers, academics and citizens in creating a society without age barriers, where skills, capabilities, knowledge and wisdom are valued whatever your age – young or old.

The event will be taking place over three days at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. Through a series of co-design labs, Day 1 and 2 will explore 4 themes: intergenerational, design for age-positive change, one-life perspective, and new models for work and employability.  Day 3 will be about sharing stories and lessons learned as well as interactive workshops from other organisations and projects that are making a positive and inspirational step forward into an age-positive future.

This event is developed in partnership with Barclays, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch).

Book via Eventbrite here.

Click here for an overview of the event in Manchester.

Further information about the movement is available on its website:

To watch a video about the previous event go to:

So What Have We Learned – Part 6 – Delivery Challenges

While exploring the range of interventions focusing on mental and emotional wellbeing during transitions into retirement and beyond as we set out in our blogpost of 27 October 2014, we identified various different modes of delivery. It is often hard to separate out content, approach and delivery, as they are all integral to an intervention. Many of the approaches used a digital platform, for example Living life to the Full and the Newcastle Live Well project. Our blog post on in January Digital Support for Emotional Wellbeing in Later Life? looked at evaluations of computerised CBT programmes such as the Beating the Blues programme with older people, and found that those who were confident with computers found it acceptable. However, although growing, there is still a relatively small percentage of people aged 65+ who are using the internet – see discussion here: Digital or Face-To-Face Therapeutic Work – What Works Best

Other interventions we explored used more traditional face to face group work, and indeed research reviews generally identify better outcomes from group interventions than one to one approaches. This is not as straight forward as it may seem and a lot of consideration goes into how these are established and developed. The Let’s talk project, Let’s Talk – Wellbeing Support for Older People in Gloucestershire, pay particular attention to the groups being sited in a community location where there is a cafe so participants can socialise around the sessions; and a key aspect of Beth Johnson’s Foundation Age Readiness Programme is to take the intervention where people are – and to access people in part of their daily lives. With Mind’s resilience programme and the Shaftesbury Partnership’s Retirement Transition Initiative group dynamics is a key part of the intervention rather than just an aspect of the delivery; for both the building of social ties and linkages is key within the group. Many interventions also offer a mixture of approaches – for example Living Life to the Full has a web-based life skills course but is also provided in one to one and group settings.

In our workshop bringing experts together, we identified some key elements to delivery of these interventions if they are to be successful:

  • Marketing and branding of interventions is crucial to their success – if people do not recognise it as of use to themselves they will not engage with it, nor are others likely to refer them to it;
  • Flexibility is key, and offering a menu of different approaches for different individuals or groups of people – through groups, one to one, on line, in self help books as part of another programme.
  • It is important to understand the variety and relevance of delivery methods and what works best for different people
  • It is important to be flexible about content structure, location, duration and timing and be able to reflect and change this during the intervention when necessary.
  • There is a need to de-professionalise and de-jargonise “life skills” and make sure people know how and where to access information and support.
  • The broader context of people’s lives need to be taken into account and think about infrastructure and other barriers
  • An intervention should be kept simple, sustainable and credible so that it can become business as usual with no extra investment of staff at a local level

Over the last blogs, we have identified many different players and organisations working in this area to deliver such interventions, ranging from local government, National Government and the NHS, voluntary sector, private sector, employers and housing associations.

One of the key things to bear in mind for the development of interventions is indeed how to deliver and engage with the people who will benefit from them, recognising that people in later life are far from one homogenous group (see for example our discussion of What are the predictors of poor retirement transitions, and the blogs we wrote about the experiences of LGBT and members of BME communities in later life), and to be able to be flexible and creative enough to reach them. This is true too, to some degree, of our premise that the content of an intervention (to build mental resilience) should also be mixed including elements of mindfulness, positive psychology, CBT, etc. (see our discussion in So what have we learned – part 5)

As our blog about Future Roots Delivering Services in Rural Areas identified with their outreach programme for rural men

“I think the lessons from this is that supporting wellbeing in later life can be achieved in different, and sometimes novel, ways. We have found that by identifying specific groups with unmet needs it is possible to develop a solution tailored to them”


So what have we learned – part 5

In our Workshop to Discuss Approaches to Building Resilience in Later Life we consulted professionals about building resilience and thus improve emotional wellbeing in later life. They identified the following factors as key to the successful development of any approach:

  • flexibility
  • person-led
  • outcome focused
  • social/peer elements
  • preventative but also element of crisis intervention
  • promotion

We will use examples that we discussed in our blog previously to illustrate how these factors impact on the success of any intervention:

Flexibility – The Living Life to the Full programme uses CBT to teach users key knowledge in how to tackle and respond to negative emotions. Although initially presented as an online course that could be taken by individuals at home, we found successful adaptations of the programme in group settings or over the phone for older people in South Tyneside, Kingston, Lambeth. Living Life to the Full also formed the basis of a resilience building intervention Mind set up in York, Tower Hamlets and Newham, Merthyr and the Valleys, Darlington Mind and City and Hackney Mind. It is the very fact that the programme can be adjusted to be delivered in a group setting or on a one-to-one basis that makes it successful. Read more in our blog posts:

Living Life to the Full

Mind’s Resilience Programme

Person-led – Age and Opportunity in Ireland run Ageing with Confidence courses which aim to increase participants’ self confidence by facilitating people to explore their own ageing; challenging the myths and stereotyping that lead to ageism; and providing information on physical, psychological and social aspects of growing older. To find out more go to: Ageing with Confidence course

Outcome focused – We featured How to Age Positively – A Handbook for Personal Change in Later Life, a handbook which sets out ten steps with practical exercises to try out for people to improve their chances of living a happy, fulfilled life in old age. The handbook takes a person-centred approach and provides suggestions for steps which are based on goal setting, identifying negative beliefs about ageing and replacing them with positive ones, visualisation, developing an optimistic outlook, developing gratitude, mindfulness and life review techniques. It is a book designed to be worked through by individuals, but is also supported by workshops and courses developed by Positive Age Associates. Read more in our blogpost: How to Age Positively

Another outcome focused approach is a citizens empowerment model being introduced in Wales – imported and adapted from Sweden called My Life, My Way which encourages older people to take their own small steps to change based on a ‘plan, do, study and act’ tool.

So what have we learned – Part 4

In our research we also looked at the policy and strategy environment, both nationally and locally. UK-wide most recent policy and strategic thinking seems to focus on either pension and employment issues or on health and care support issues. Whilst we appreciate that employment, health and care support are vital issues to consider there appears to be no national follow-up on the Ageing Well initiative run by the Local Government Association from 2010-2012 and sponsored by the DWP. This initiative is still active at a local level and we found some innovative follow-up work in for example, Barnet, Cumbria and Thanet. See more in our post of 19 December 2014

For an excellent overview of the national policy environment we recommended the website of the Centre for Policy on Ageing:

We also noted that the fact that Northern Ireland and Wales have a Commissioner for Older People seemed to be reflected in terms of strategic thinking about wellbeing in later life. See for example,

Appreciating Age – Valuing the Positive Contributions made by Older People (Commissioner for Older People Northern Ireland, 2014 report highlighting the economic contribution made by older people as well as more general contributions to society)


Framework for Action 2013-2017 (Commissioner for Older People Wales, 2013 report outlining the priorities for the Commissioner’s work and the changes she wants to see for older people, including embedding wellbeing at the heart of public services)

In our research at a more regional and local level we looked at local authority strategies for improving emotional wellbeing in Devon, Sefton, and even a Well for Life strategy from Victoria, Australia. Manchester has long had a strategy for its older people: Manchester Ageing Strategy (2009) and defines itself as an Age Friendly City. Manchester is at the forefront of innovative partnerships between local authority, voluntary sector, public sector, and older people themselves in terms of identifying the priorities for action to improve the lives of all people in later life in Manchester. Bristol has a similar partnership: Bristol Ageing Better, a partnership of older people and organisations across Bristol who are working together to develop services and support for older people that address isolation and loneliness. In this context of partnerships it is also important to mention the Age Action Alliance network which tries to bring organisations and work together with little funding but goodwill of voluntary members and that through its subgroups supports new initiatives like Age Of No Retirement.

We found that such partnerships are crucial as they are an excellent way of harnessing the combined efforts of local government, public sector, third sector, private sector, academia and older people themselves. One of the things that stood out for us in the research is just how many different organisations and agencies are involved in separate initiatives to improve the lives of older people. As a direct consequence of such a crowded field there are big gaps in communication and knowledge sharing which will in the long term inevitably lead to duplication of work. Participants in our workshop of 9 February, for example, welcomed the chance to share their experience and expertise and acknowledged that this was something they had not had an opportunity to do before.

We hope that the new Centre for Ageing Better  as a ‘What Works‘ Centre will play a key role in drawing all the different strands together and setting up a practice and knowledge base that all stakeholders and providers can draw on.

Volunteering in Later Life – Opportunities & Challenges for the Voluntary Sector

Volunteering is seen as one of the ways we can remain active and engaged throughout our lives. In later life volunteering makes a huge contribution to our society and can be important for active and healthy ageing as we have discussed previously:

Last week the Commission on the Voluntary Sector & Ageing launched its report Decision time: Will the voluntary sector embrace the age of opportunity? It was a good event, a lively discussion and a strong report and body of work (see Storify here – ).

The main recommendations for the voluntary sector, funders and government, are:

  • Charities must adapt how they work with older volunteers and donors. Today’s retirees are more discerning and discriminating than ever before about giving time and money, and charities should maintain more interactive, reciprocal relationships with the people who support them.
  • Charities should monitor the age profile of their workforce and take proactive steps to recruit under-represented groups and to offer flexible and part-time working opportunities. Charities could lead retraining for teachers, care-workers and other under-staffed professions.
  • Government can support the efforts of charities by considering incentives to volunteer. This may include piloting tax breaks for volunteers or carer credits.
  • Funders should pilot more early intervention projects, to identify the most effective work and prevent future problems before they emerge.

Chair of the Commission Lynne Berry challenged the launch around practice and opportunity as well as ageism and attitudes – ‘nothing about us without us’. Many of her and the Report’s reflections are captured here:

Her parting ‘Tweet’ reflection and challenge was ‘controlled rage and uncontrolled optimism’.

Justin Davis Smith from NCVO responded here to the ‘wake-up call’:

For our interest and work in ‘Transitions’ his colleague Nick Ockenden’s blog also resonated as he reflected on some of this and other recent research looking at older volunteers resilience in times of austerity:

The main challenge of the Report is whether the Voluntary Sector will embrace this new ‘age of opportunity’. Similar could be, and is being, asked of not just the voluntary but also the public and private sectors.

So What Have We Learned – Part 3

In our 15 December blog post we looked at what the predictors were for poor retirement transitions. We found that although research in the UK is limited, US based research suggests that one third of retirees may have problematic transitions to retirement with a small number having ongoing problems. Factors that appear to impact can be structural – inadequate housing or income, caring responsibilities- but may also be related to people’s experience of working life, poor health, and loss of social capital.

Some research has pointed to the importance of people’s own attitudes to retirement – how positive they feel, how they react to change, and their sense of control over the process. We explored this in a series of posts, see for example:

We also had valuable contributions from Mervyn Eastman of Change AGEnts Coop. See for example:

And we explored the impact of external ageism and discrimination and what could be done to alleviate its impact on people in later life:

  • More on Ageism – blog post about the stigma and discrimination surrounding ageing

We found that initiatives that provide information for older people such as Late Life AGEnda or give a voice to older people themselves such as Retirement Reinvented, Silverlinks and High50 were crucial in changing attitudes to and perceptions of later life. We also noted that the topic of ageism seemed to strike a chord with readers of the blog.

“We live in a society that has little time for older people” [click here to read the full comment]

“In fact the three things older people have told you they want are remarkably similar to what we heard in 2007, and are still hearing today. What people told us they wanted in older age:

  1. Support with life’s practical tasks to stay sorted;
    2. To be socially connected around shared interests and values (not age);
    3. The opportunity to live life with a purpose and contribute to their local community.” [click here to read the full comment]

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK) is already taking active steps to combat ageism – internalised and external – through its support if the Age Of No Retirement, a collaborative movement including employers, policy makers, innovators, designers, academics and citizens working to create a society without age barriers, where skills, capabilities, knowledge and wisdom are valued whatever your age – young or old. For more information on the next Age of No Retirement event in Manchester on 27-29 April go to: