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HAIRE (Healthy Aging through Innovation in Rural Europe)


Dr Catherine Leyshon (Project lead), Social Innovation Group (SIG)

Key points:

  • A team of 15 project partners from across the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands have come together to develop and test systems that empower older people
  • Using 8 pilot sites across Europe, including Feock in Cornwall, the project plans to investigate and support a range of factors to improve the wellbeing of older people


Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe (HAIRE) seeks to enable those over 60 and no longer in employment in rural areas to participate in the design and delivery of services and develop solutions for themselves to reduce loneliness and improve their quality of life, health and wellbeing.

These solutions will be based on their own interests, capabilities and preferences, supported by the voluntary, private and public sectors. The toolkit deployed across the 8 pilot sites aims to help achieve various goals: to improve wellbeing, increase collaboration between participating agencies and voluntary & community sector organisations, improve rural community vitality, increase active participation of older people and the voluntary sector in service design and delivery. This is to create new modes of service delivery and to achieve widespread change to models of delivery across the study area and beyond.

Rural communities face a range of challenges. They have an ageing population, poor public transport, lack of local support and facilities, out-migration of young people, reduced services, and isolation and fragmented health and social care, and all of these challenges negatively impact the health and wellbeing of older people. The potential of older people has often been overlooked and HAIRE seeks to remedy this by giving older people the chance to actually define the support they need and be key shareholders in the way that support is designed and delivered. The benefits of healthy ageing will be felt by individuals, communities and service providers.

Feock Parish Council oversees small hamlets and the villages of Feock, Carnon Downs, Devoran, Penpol and Point. It is seeking to promote wellbeing and healthy ageing by supporting activities which include all sections of the community. Over 50% of the parish's population is over the age of 60 and 18% are over 75 - exceeding Cornwall's average population age. Through HAIRE, we are gaining a greater understanding of community capacity, greater volunteering effort, the opportunity to promote intergenerational connections, and addressing the redesign of service provision alongside older people. HAIRE is enabling the villages of Feock to be more resilient.

» Find out more on the HAIRE blog