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About Bristol Ageing Better

Bristol Ageing Better (BAB) is a programme that was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund between 2015-2022, which worked with a partnership of individuals and organisations to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol. Over the years BAB has built up a vast library of learning, evaluation and evidence regarding people aged 50+ in Bristol.

From day one, it has been important to assess impact, evidence of outcomes and identify learning and recommendations for the future. The aim of this learning is that future funders, commissioners, organisations and community groups will use this knowledge in order to improve the quality of support experienced by older people in the city.

BAB has grouped this knowledge into three key categories available to view below our BAB outcomes report. 

Our evaluation tools, methods and outcomes of the BAB programme as a whole. 

Who evaluated the BAB programme?

The local evaluation of Bristol Ageing Better was conducted by the University of the West of England (UWE) and a team of volunteer Community Researchers aged 50+.

This evaluation team collected in-depth evidence about a number of BAB-funded projects, as well as about the BAB programme as a whole. Together with UWE Bristol, the Community Researchers co-produced evaluation reports delivered presentations and played an active role in advising the development of the programme.

A national-level evaluation of all 14 Ageing Better programmes in England, including Bristol, is being undertaken by an agency called Ecorys.

What did the evaluation involve?

We collected evidence about our projects in a number of different ways in order to help us evaluate our impact on older people.

One of these methods involved monitoring data collected on a regular basis by the BAB Programme Management Team, which was both quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative data was collected through a Common Measurement Framework (CMF) questionnaire. This was developed by Ecorys and used by older people in all 14 of the Ageing Better programmes nationally. The questionnaire covered topics such as loneliness and isolation, health, wellbeing, social contact, social participation, decision making and volunteering. It was designed to be completed three times by each individual; once at the start of their involvement in a project, once at the end of their involvement in that project, and then once again six months later. This enabled the impact of a project to be tracked over time.

Qualitative data was collected through a variety of methods including in-depth interviews, observations, attending events and meetings, case studies and online surveys.

What were the outcomes of the BAB programme?

The BAB programme has been running for 6 full years and both our evaluation team at the University West of England and the Community Researchers have dedicated countless hours to this work ensuring that the programme has been evaluated to the highest possible standard.

Evaluation outcomes from the BAB programme.

The impact of the BAB programme on loneliness, isolation, health, wellbeing and a range of other factors. A quantitative evaluation report from UWE.

Understanding the context and development of the BAB programme

A report from UWE exploring the local and national factors which influenced the context of the BAB programme, its development and outcomes.

In October 2020, we ran a series of webinars sharing learning from the last 5 years of the BAB programme. These events were filmed and are available to watch on YouTube. Please click on the links below.

Addressing loneliness and isolation amongst older people in Bristol
Older People As Active Citizens: Changing The Way Bristol Works
Age-Friendly Places: Building Upon and Nurturing Community Assets


Services and activities addressing loneliness and social isolation:

Social prescribing

UWE’s final evaluation of the BAB Community Navigators social prescribing service

Key findings and recommendations from the evaluation of BAB Community Navigators social prescribing service, evaluated by UWE Bristol and BAB Community Researchers.

Summary of UWE's final evaluation of the Community Navigators  

This document provides a summary of the evaluation findings relating to the BAB Community Navigators social prescribing service.

Collective learning from social prescribing services in Bristol 

In order to help inform future commissioning and service delivery in the city, BAB has captured the collective learning and recommendations from seven existing providers of social prescribing services.

Community Webs evaluation  

The final evaluation of the Community Webs project, funded by Bristol Ageing Better and Better Care Bristol. Community Webs supports, enables and equips GP patients to access social activities and non-medical support services available in their local community.

Mental health and wellbeing services

Our key learning and recommendations about mental health and wellbeing. 

These insights are drawn from BAB’s specific mental health services (5 pilot projects and 3 larger services) as well as wider learning from other BAB-funded projects that work in the community.

Talking Therapies final project report

An overview of the BAB Talking Therapies projects, delivered by Oasis-Talk, Carers Support Centre and Second Step. This report includes quantitative outcomes data, key learning and recommendations, quotes and case studies.

 Group-Based Wellbeing Project 

An overview of the Group-Based Wellbeing project, including context and background, quantitative outcomes data, project successes, challenges, learning and recommendations. This project was led by Oasis-Talk in partnership with multiple partner organisations.

Oasis Talk Elders Pilot Project.

The research was undertaken by Oasis Talk during their BAB pilot project, identifying some of the barriers to accessing mental health services faced by adults aged 50+ from minority and ethnic backgrounds. 

BAB wellbeing pilot projects:
Key learning from all five wellbeing service pilot projects 
Carers Support Centre 
Happy City 
Oasis Talk 
Second Step 
Wellspring Healthy Living Centre 

Physical activity

Collective learning about physical activity for older people

BAB has captured the collective learning and recommendations about physical from nine local organisations working with older people in Bristol. The learning is focused around 3 themes: 1) Tips for engaging older people in physical activity, 2) Tips for reducing drop-out rates for older people’s physical activity, and 3) Tips for combining physical activity with social connection.

Community development

UWE’s final evaluation of BAB Community Development projects

Key findings and recommendations from BAB’s ‘test and learn’ community development projects, evaluated by UWE Bristol and the BAB Community Researchers. Published in October 2020.

Summary of UWE's final evaluation of BAB Community Development Projects

A summary of the above full-length report

UWE’s final evaluation of 6 individual BAB Community Development projects

Greater Brislington: Executive Summary
Greater Fishponds: Executive Summary
Horfield and Lockleaze: Executive Summary
St Pauls and Old Market: Executive Summary
Stockwood: Executive Summary
Strategy, Organisation and Coordination: Executive Summary

Interim findings from UWE’s evaluation of BAB Community Development projects 

A ‘live document’ of initial findings and observations from the evaluation of BAB Community Development projects, undertaken by UWE Bristol and Community Researchers.

Community development in care homes (learning from Alive) 

Learning from Alive Activities, as presented in March 2019. Working in four care homes, the project focused on developing connections between residents and with the local community, enabling residents to have more of a voice-over what they want to do.

Community development in St Pauls and Old Market (learning from Livewest) 

Learning from BAB’s community development projects based in St Pauls and Old Market, delivered by Livewest (formerly Knightstone).

Community development in Greater Bedminster (learning from St Monica Trust) 

Learning from BAB’s community development projects based in Greater Bedminster, delivered by St Monica Trust.

Supporting community groups to be sustainable 

Reflections from some of the BAB community development projects about what sustainability might look like for a community group and how community development workers can support this.

Care homes

Care Homes in the Community: Evaluation

An evaluation of the Care Homes in the Community project delivered by Alive. The project worked with four care homes to connect residents with their local communities, putting residents at the centre of decision-making using a variety of co-production techniques.

Community grants and microfunding

UWE’s final evaluation of the BAB Community Kick-Start Fund

Summary of UWE’s final evaluation of the BAB Community Kick-Start Fund

“No way did I ever think of stopping”: Addendum to UWE’s final evaluation of the BAB Community Kick-Start Fund

UWE evaluation report on successful Community Kick-Start applicants 

An evaluation of BAB’s Community Kickstart Scheme. UWE and a team of Community Researchers used interviews with funded groups to assess the strengths and limitations of the scheme, identifying areas for further improvement.

The New & Improved Kick-Start Fund: Changes we’ve made in 2018 

At the beginning of 2018, BAB made some changes to the way in which the fund was administered. This learning report reviews the challenges and successes of the fund to date, and the changes implemented to allow it to reach even more isolated older people.

Community Kick-Start Fund: What have we learnt so far? 

In November 2017 BAB facilitated a shared learning event with the Ageing Better programmes working in Birmingham, Thanet, Hackney and Cheshire. All were at different stages of delivering initiatives similar to BAB’s Community Kick-Start fund. This report outlines the learning from this event.

Food and nutrition

UWE’s final evaluation of Bristol Meets the World and Talking Tables: Community-supported shared meals in Bristol

Key findings and recommendations from two of BAB’s food projects, evaluated by UWE Bristol. Published in October 2020.

Summary of UWE's final evaluation of BAB's food projects 

A summary of the above report 

Your Food, Your Health final project report

An overview of the Your Food, Your Health project, including learning, recommendations, successes and challenges. This project used food-based activities to encourage people in sheltered and independent living accommodation to come together socially to enjoy and improve their relationship with food.

Food and Loneliness: Learning Event September 2019

The presentation shared at a BAB learning event about food and loneliness in September 2019. It includes UWE’s initial findings from the evaluation of Bristol Meets The World and Talking Tables, along with the key learning and recommendations from all three BAB food and nutrition projects.

Intergenerational activities

Group activities

Collective learning and recommendations from seven organisations about group activities that take place online or via the telephone instead of face-to-face.

Learning report - Online and telephone activities.

Shared Reading Groups final project report: An overview of the Shared Reading Groups project delivered by The Reader, including project impact, learning, successes and challenges. This project set up and coordinated a series of drop-in shared reading groups across Bristol, each facilitated by a trained volunteer Reader Leader.

Friends Ageing Better (FAB) final project report: An overview of the Friends Ageing Better (FAB) project including key learning, recommendations and adaptations to Covid-19.

BAB group activities pilot projects (Group Work Peer Support):

Key learning from all group activity pilot projects 
Bristol and Avon Chinese Women's Group 
Bristol Drugs Project 
Carers Support Centre 
Cruse Bereavement Care 
Growing Support Pilot 1 
Growing Support Pilot 2 
Happy City 
Life Cycle UK 
NCBI and Bristol Black Carers 
The Harbour 
The Reader 
University of Bath 

Adapting to Covid-19

How have some organisations in Bristol adapted to Covid-19? 

Five organisations in the BAB partnership shared their learning about adapting their activities during Covid-19.

Foundations for a high-quality service:

Coproduction and the voice of older people

National Co-production Toolkit from Ageing Better

Co-created by the 14 Ageing Better programmes, this toolkit library contains over 100 resources, tools and stories on a broad range of co-production topics. Browse the entire library or dip into your co-production topic of choice. The 12 topics are:

Creating a co-production culture
Community development through micro-funding
Tackling ageism through co-production & age friendly communities
Co-production within coastal & rural communities
Tackling loneliness through co-commissioning
Empowering communities through partnership working
Co-researching within the community
Growing sustainable groups
Diversity & inclusion
Creativity in co-production
Asset based community development
Co-production in a crisis

Volunteer Community Researchers

UWE evaluation report on BAB Community Researchers. This report explores how BAB have involved older people as volunteer researchers and evaluators. It provides an overview of their role, their activities and achievements to date and the lessons learnt from their involvement in the evaluation process.

Learning from volunteer peer-researchers in 5 Ageing Better programmes. In May 2019, BAB facilitated a shared learning event with 5 of the 14 Ageing Better programmes. This report shares the learning from this event, while the summary document outlines the 5 key findings.

Babbers Radio Show 

Learning and recommendations from the Babbers Radio Show, a weekly community radio show run by and for people aged 50+ in Bristol.

Involving older people in decision making 

We asked our partners to reflect on how older people are currently involved in the decisions made within their projects and organisations. We also asked them for their ideas about how this could be improved.

Proactive reach

Reaching and engaging older people who are LGBT+ 

Learning from two workshops led by The Diversity Trust aiming to ensure that those who work with older people feel confident in reaching and engaging people who are LGBT+. The workshops were co-developed with individuals aged 50+ who identify as LGBT+ as well as BAB’s LGBT+ Community Development Officer for Older Adults.

Reaching and engaging older people with dementia 

This Learning Digest presents the key learning and ideas from two workshops run by Bristol Dementia Action Alliance.The aim of these workshops was to learn more about how organisations and individuals can reach, engage and include older people with dementia within their community activities.

What has worked well when reaching and engaging older men? 

In August 2019, projects within the BAB programme came together to reflect and share their learning about engaging men aged 50 and over. This topic was chosen because, across the programme, there have been significantly fewer male participants than female participants. This report outlines the key learning.

Reaching and engaging older carers 

Learning from workshops run by Carers Support Centre in conjunction with Bristol & Avon Chinese Women’s Group (BACWG). BAB want to ensure that staff and volunteers working with older people in Bristol feel equipped to identify older carers, to make their projects inclusive for older carers, and to be more aware of the support available for them.

Reaching and engaging older Somali women in Bristol 

This Learning Digest presents the learning, discussions and ideas from two workshops which explored how to better reach and engage older Somali women in Bristol. These workshops were run by Midnimo Women’s Group, a self-organised local community group formed in 2017 for Somali women.

How have BAB projects used technology to reach and engage people aged 50+? 

This report explores how BAB projects have used technology to reach and engage people aged 50+. What has worked well and why? What advice do they have for others?

Inclusive communications 

In March 2018 BAB's Communications Network received training on inclusive communications and discussed their experiences of this. Here we share this learning and provide you with tips on how to make your communications more inclusive.

Initial learning about making your project more accessible and inclusive 

Looking to make your project more accessible or inclusive? Read our initial learning from other BAB projects to help you reflect and improve.

Engaging older people with sight loss, hearing loss, dual sensory loss or experience of substance misuse 

Staff and volunteers across the BAB programme came together to learn how to make their work more inclusive and accessible for older people with sight loss, hearing loss, dual sensory loss or experience of substance misuse. Led by Sense, Bristol Drugs Project and the Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Using a storytelling approach to reach and engage people aged 85+ 

Research tells us that those aged 85+ can be at particular risk of loneliness and isolation. This Digest shares learning about using a storytelling approach to engage with this age group. Led by the University of Bristol and Stand + Stare from the Tangible Memories Project.

Finding older people to take part in your project 

Finding potential participants and encouraging them to take part in your project can sometimes be a challenge, especially when aiming to involve those who are experiencing loneliness or isolation. We've compiled some tips and learning from BAB projects.

Partnership and collaboration

Working in partnership with other organisations 

Partnership working is central to the entire BAB programme. Here we share the learning from across our projects about successful ways to work alongside other organisations, from the very beginning of a partnership through to the end.


Older volunteers within the BAB programme 

This report looks at older volunteers in the BAB programme. What have BAB projects learnt about involving volunteers aged 50+?

Supporting volunteers 

Many of our projects involve volunteers, and they often play a key part in a project’s effectiveness at tackling loneliness and isolation. Here we share our learning on how to support your volunteers and get the best from them

City wide infrastructure:

Asset mapping

The Neighbourhood Asset Mapping of Greater Fishponds 

Eight of BAB’s Community Researchers undertook neighbourhood asset-mapping of the Greater Fishponds area in Bristol. This report presents their findings and insights, as well as their reflections on the asset-mapping process.

Greater Brislington Mini Project 

A team of four Community Researchers explored ten community groups within the Greater Brislington area of Bristol, identifying their present engagement with Bristol Ageing Better, their awareness of BAB’s Kickstart Scheme and the barriers to social participation. They then make recommendations for how BAB might be able to engage better with this community.


Project report: Housing Options Service run by We Care Home Improvements

This report presents the learning from the Housing Options Service, which supported older people to explore their housing options and helped with the process of moving. This service was commissioned as part of the Age-Friendly Challenge Fund, promoting health and independence by ensuring older people were aware of the range of housing options available to them.

Age-friendly Plans and Successes So Far. 

BAB launched the Age-friendly Challenge Fund in 2019, challenging organisations across the city to make their services better for older people. Projects in the domains of Transport, Housing and Respect & Social Inclusion gave an update of their work and the learning from their first few months.

Age-friendly Transport: Are We There Yet Event – What Did We Learn? 

This report presents the learning from our Age-friendly Transport event, in which we heard from a variety of speakers on the topic of Age-friendly transport. Together we learnt about the barriers to Age-friendly transport and the possible short-term and long-term solutions. This learning will be used to further develop Bristol’s Age-friendly action plan.

Supporting older people to overcome transport barriers.

Transport difficulties can be a big barrier to tackling loneliness and isolation. This document shares our learning so far about how project workers and volunteers can support older people to overcome some of these transport barriers in the short-term.

Age-friendly Homes: Building Solutions Together Event – What Did We Learn? 

This report presents the learning from our Age-friendly Homes event, in which we heard from a variety of speakers on the topic of Age-friendly housing. Together we learnt about the barriers to Age-friendly housing and the possible short-term and long-term solutions. This learning will be used to further develop Bristol’s Age-friendly action plan.