Regeneration may cause isolation for older people, study finds

older people
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A study by an academic from The University of Manchester has found that urban regeneration in poor neighbourhoods can actually backfire, and lead to older people feeling isolated.

As cities regenerate, , residents and facilities are built which can change an area dramatically. A new movement to create 'age friendly cities' is aiming to ensure that regeneration happens in a way which allows to actively participate in their communities, stay connected to the people that matter most to them, and remain living in their homes for as long as possible—known as ageing in place.

Social anthropologist Dr. Camilla Lewis spent a year living in East Manchester, one of the most deprived areas in the UK, in order to understand how local regeneration is affecting the day-to-day lives of older residents. The study focused on women aged over 50 who had lived in the area for their entire lives.

She interviewed and observed residents in places including a community centre, a market cafe and their homes. She found that despite being close to the city centre and benefiting from millions of pounds of investment in their area, people tended to feel separated from the wealth and new identity of the rest of the city. The demolition and rebuilding of new houses had also resulted in a deep sense of uncertainty and isolation.

"Despite the ambitious plans of local government, the rebuilding of houses actually caused a huge upheaval to social ties, with families and neighbours being rehoused away from one another," said Dr. Lewis.

"Many people felt that, compared to the past, there was no longer a close-knit community, no one looked out for anyone anymore, or felt pride in their neighbourhood. They lamented the loss of industry in the area, describing in nostalgic terms how East Manchester used to support proud communities of workers who had a strong sense of local identity."

Her study showed that in order to make sense of the changes taking place around them, older people share memories of the past with strong networks of support. Social settings are vital to these networks, however it was felt that lots of the places that had previously served as community hubs—such as markets, churches and pubs—had disappeared, meaning that people no longer had the opportunity to get to know their neighbours.

The research highlights the need to understand the needs and expectations of older people when developing age friendly cities, rather than assuming that one approach will satisfy all.

"My findings show that regeneration processes are only advantageous to certain groups, and for older people are often unsettling due to disruptions to their former ways of life and local identities. It's important to understand the history and identity of neighbourhoods within cities – which differ hugely, from one community to another – as local identity is so important for older people's sense of belonging," says Dr. Camilla Lewis.

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Citation: Regeneration may cause isolation for older people, study finds (2018, November 2) retrieved 24 October 2019 from
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Nov 02, 2018
I am resistant to change for the sake of progressive change.

Nov 03, 2018
Gee Doug, you might want to take up debating that issue with Teddy Roosevelt. Oh, wait, that boat has already sailed. And at this moment, passing through the Panama Canal.

When I observe people expecting a glorious future of regeneration and immortality? What I am observing is their wishful expectation that Time can be halted.

Nov 03, 2018
I was knocking around in Manchester as a kid in the 60s when Hulme was 'regenerated'. Admittedly, the housing stock was bloody ancient and appalling. I have read a fair bit about it since, due to an interest in my family history, and a lot of them having lived around there, back in the day. What they essentially did, was turn a working class sh!thole community, into a working class sh!thole, sans community. It may be recovering its sense of community now, in which case they'll probably bulldoze it again.
Its early origins were as an overflow suburb, as Manchester grew massively during the industrial revolution. There was a barracks there. For anyone with local knowledge, that was where the bastards responsible for the Peterloo Massacre were based.


Nov 04, 2018
The history of "charitable" efforts by "Progressive" Republicans and "Progressive" Tories has been? Two steps forward for the plutocracy profiting from inflicting misery. And three steps backward for the impoverished toiling masses upon whom the ruling class has bestowed their predatory "mercy".

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