Projects which tackle challenges of ageing to share nearly £3m

Group of people playing music for older people

More than 30 projects run by social enterprises across the UK, which tackle the impacts of ageing will share nearly £3 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

It’s the first time a UKRI funded competition has targeted social enterprises, so that projects are more directly designed to create social, as well as economic, benefits.

This approach is supported by a future of impact investment in healthy ageing report, commissioned by UKRI in 2021.

Funded projects

Part of UKRI’s healthy ageing challenge, funded projects announced today include:

Active Families North East England

Active Families North East England encourages older people in deprived areas to get out in their street and be active and connect socially.

It involves a touring ‘well bean’ van equipped with a range of equipment, including seats for dance and exercise.

Bron Afon Community Housing

Bron Afon Community Housing is a Welsh project which will create a co-housing ‘live together, but apart’ template.

Older people can live in their own homes but share resources, like gardens, washing machines and vehicles to save costs and energy while helping the environment.

But they can come together for meals and socialising, so they stay connected.


BuddyHub creates intergenerational, supportive social groups of four people called ‘friendship wheels’ as meaningful friendships are key to our mental and physical health.

Funding will design and pilot a parallel service to form ‘clubs’ of 10 to 15 people around diverse interests giving lonely older people opportunities to make more friends.


Cricketqube in Newcastle helps keep South Asian women, for whom healthy ageing and an active lifestyle are extremely difficult to achieve, physically and mentally healthy by playing cricket.

Golf in Society

Golf in Society is expanding across a further 10 venues, for people living with chronic illnesses and challenges such as:

  • dementia
  • Parkinson’s
  • stroke
  • loneliness
  • depression.

It aims to create opportunities to discover a happier, healthier life through golf in their community.

The project also provides essential respite for unpaid carers.

Good Boost

Good Boost is a waterproof, tablet-based way of motivating older people to be active.

It has personalised artificial intelligence and gamified exercise programmes for use in:

  • leisure centres
  • the local pool
  • at home.

It aims to help prevent falls, fractures, and hospitalisation.

‘Life transitions’ app

A new ‘life transitions’ app, developed by East Sussex County Council, aims to help people prepare for significant changes in later life such as:

  • retiring
  • moving home
  • experiencing health and mobility problems
  • becoming a carer
  • experiencing bereavement.

The app will help people navigate life transitions more effectively when they happen.

Music in Mind

Manchester Camerata orchestra’s music therapy-based programme Music in Mind is combining resources with the Greater Moments dementia app (by Social Sense, a social marketing company).

It aims to help give healthcare workers the ability to better record, understand, engage, and then improve experiences for care home residents living with dementia.

Unforgettable Experiences

Unforgettable Experiences delivers therapeutic online arts and crafts classes to people living with cognitive impairment, including dementia.

Social and economic benefits

21 more projects have also received funding of up to £150,000 per project.

Run by social entrepreneurs, all have the potential to scale up and deliver both social and economic benefit to our society.

Each project will tackle one or more of the following challenges:

  • common complaints of ageing, such as:
    • impaired hearing
    • eyesight
    • mobility
    • supporting mental and physical wellbeing
  • sustaining physical activity for over 50’s
  • living well with cognitive impairment
  • maintaining health at work
  • designing for age-friendly homes
  • supporting social connections
  • creating healthy and active places.

Real innovation and imagination

George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge director at UKRI, said:

Social enterprises can play an important part in addressing inequalities in healthy longevity, yet recent research has highlighted the difficulties they face in raising funds to grow.

That’s why the UKRI healthy ageing challenge will provide £2.78 million funding through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

The 31 projects we are funding demonstrate the very real innovation and imagination of the social enterprise sector, tackling inequalities in healthy ageing and addressing a wide-range of issues such as physical and mental wellbeing, suitable accommodation, social connectivity and playing a full role in work or wider society.

Top image:  Credit: Manchester Camerata

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