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Results from Santander's First URBANAGE Focus Group

Updated: May 17, 2023

This July a workshop organised by the Santander City Council in the framework of the European innovation project URBANAGE took place. The state-of-the-art project aims to help urban planners make cities more age-friendly by using technology to improve the planning process. To achieve the project aims, input from key beneficiaries - older adults - is needed so the City of Santander organised a co-design session.

The workshop took place in the Finca Altamira, in the open air in adherence to security measures imposed by Covid19. The workshop was attended by 13 older adults with an average age of 76.7 years, composed of volunteers who participate in the activities organised by the municipal Elderly Leisure service as well as representatives of the Association of Widows of Cantabria.

The participants were divided into two groups in which, over the course of two hours, they discussed the different topics raised by the workshop moderators. In addition to the older adults, Mr. Felipe Pérez Manso, Councillor for Innovation, Recruitment and Sports and Mr. Álvaro Lavín Muriente, Councillor for Family, Social Services, Personal Autonomy and Equality were also present and actively participated in the debate so they could understand first-hand challenges that face aging populations.

Topics debated included, the daily activities carried out by older adults, the motivation that leads them to carry out these activities and the barriers they encounter. In addition, the civic participation of older people in matters related to the city, and their interrelation with the digital world, was analysed. In this context, many suggestions and improvements were made to make Santander a more friendly city for older people.

Several interesting results were obtained, for example, participants value very positively the opportunities for participation in city decision making, as well as interest in improving channels of participation, both traditional and digital.

In terms of popular activities, the most attractive ones were deemed ballroom dancing and sewing workshops with the motivation for participating in organised activities are being yje ability to socialise, to feel active and to have the opportunity to talk to other people. Among practical suggestions for improvement in the city were the need for more benches to sit on. The current mobility initiatives undertaken by the City Council (ramps, escalators, etc.) were very much appreciated.

The results obtained in this first workshop will be further developed in following workshops to be held this September and October.

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