The share of elderly people in the demographic structure of European countries is constantly increasing. With his in mind, we have taken a number of actions aimed at stimulating the activity and supporting the mobility of senior citizens residing in the Metropolis GZM. The solutions developed within the Metropolitan senior citizen policy team are created with the participation of senior citizens themselves, as well as the participation of representatives of cities and communes of the Metropolis, social partners, non-governmental organizations and universities. The team is a consultative and advisory body and its work is of a social nature.
The ageing of the European communities is a result of longer life expectancy and the decrease in the birth rate, which has continued since the 1970s. Poland is among countries in which this process is already at an advanced stage. According to the calculations of Statistics Poland, in 2018 persons aged 60 and over accounted for 25% of the country’s population. Statistics Poland predicts that by 2050 this share may amount to as much as 41%. This is why it is so important for action in favour of older adults to constitute one of the priorities of social policy – also at metropolitan level.
Uniform system for supporting senior citizens
Since the very beginning, we have known that developing effective solutions for senior citizens requires their participation. This is why we established the Metropolitan senior citizen policy team in May 2019.
The starting point for the team’s work is to develop solutions that will improve the quality of life of the older adults while utilizing their potential. At the beginning of the work, senior citizens reported that they took advantage of the cultural, sports and social opportunities on a regular basis – not only in communes where they lived, but also in other communes of the Metropolis. One of the team’s objectives was to aim for development of the best possible solutions and promote good practices.
Moreover, the team split into thematic groups: transport and space, voluntary work, employment and counselling, citizenship and decision. These groups develop solutions which will result in adapting urban mobility and infrastructure to the needs of senior citizens, increasing the cooperation of citizens with local government authorities and employers, and promoting good practices in the field of educational projects addressed to senior citizens.
The first results can be seen relatively quickly
One of the first results of the team’s work is the creation of a guide titled “Senior-friendly Metropolis”. The document contains recommendations concerning the mobilization of older adults through volunteer work and actions aimed at increasing their participation in the co-decision procedure. The handbook, which is several dozen pages in length, includes not only advice and tips, but also useful model documents. Both cities and communes forming the Metropolis, as well as companies and institutions may benefit from them. Ultimately, the team is expected to develop assumptions for at least two public services targeted at senior citizens. We also collect current views and guidance on how to increase the quality of public transport within the Metropolis.
It is also worth noting that the team operates in an intergenerational environment. One example of such activity were study walks, which constituted part of the work on the document concerning the design of a pedestrian-friendly urban space. On this occasion, senior citizens cooperated with officials, architects, social activists and other interest groups.
As the Metropolis, we also became involved in the organization of the 1st Voivodeship Senior Conference and the “Silver Silesia” Fair. The event organized by the Silesian Voivodeship pertained to the portfolio of services addressed directly to senior citizens, as well as featured workshops and advice.
“Senior-friendly Metropolis” is one of the priority tasks under the Strategic Action Programme of Metropolis GZM Until 2022. A budget in the amount of PLN 2 million has been earmarked for this purpose.