Demographic change with its spatial and economic effects is apparent in Europe and is a major challenge for spatial development in the NWE territory. 2 major questions have to be answered: What can be done to support local care networks? (Commission of the European Communities) How can the EU strengthen its social capital in the field of elderly and thereby reduce social costs on local and regional level? The SeNS project aims to strengthen senior networks to enable a self-determined satisfying life for every senior. to use the social capital of these networks for the ageing NWE society and thus permanently relieve the welfare systems. Therefore SeNS will develop a viable sustainable model for Senior Network Support with different modules to enable the responsible institutions to assess whether the required networks in a spatial unit (quarter. city. region) are present and if they are sufficient. what the strategies look like to create the sufficient degree of cross-linking in terms of social capital (bonding. bridging. linking). what measures. instruments and tools are appropriate and necessary to support Senior Network(s) sustainable and how the issue “Senior Network Support” can be promoted in the local public and particularly on the European level will have a sustainable and durable lobby. The SeNS age image is a positive one of the active. engaged. experienced elderly. Ageing of individuals and society is regarded as a chance in developing NWE’s cities by taking the opportunities in terms of building social capital and enhancing senior citizens’ quality of life by empowering them to take part in a full range of activities in different spheres. Ensuring the success of SeNS and to facilitate future learning the involvement and engagement of seniors and stakeholders is crucial: it is vital that older people have a voice in the way developments are pursued and equally important is the expertise and skills they can bring to the pilot actions.
The project aims to empower elderly people to take part in a wide range of activities and areas. This not only enhances seniors’ lives, but it also favours the whole social tissue.
SeNS has developed the so called Page model, a 6-step process with instruments to develop support networks for senior citizens. The authors are Prof. Dominique Verté and Sarah Dury, from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. This transnational model is helping project partners create and support sustainable networks on the ground.
SeNS partners support more than 50 senior-related networks involving governmental actors and/or non-public sector organisations on local and regional level. In this way, partners have been in contact with more than 86 500 people over 60 as well as with local volunteers and some professionals partners.
Some of these local actions include: Care networks for senior citizens involving the senior citizen and formal and informal caretakers (Care Network Support) in Genk (Belgium). The local action “Time to Share” saw the setting up of a ‘local exchange and trading system’ to create and strengthen networks of senior citizens. “Cook for Life” organised around 40 health and food related initiatives to support the network development of senior citizens. Special attention is given to an intergenerational and multicultural approach. The SHARED (Support Help Access Resources Educate Dementia) SeNS pilot in Stockport (UK) focuses on people with dementia. A short film gathers testimonies from its users.