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HAIRE: Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe

Funded by Interreg 2 Seas from January 2020 until March 2023, our aim is to reduce isolation and loneliness and improve wellbeing in the 60+ age group; increase collaboration between participating agencies and Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations (VCSO); improve rural community vitality; increase active participation of older people and voluntary sector in service design and delivery; create new models of service delivery; achieve widespread change to models of delivery.

The overall objective of HAIRE is to:

Develop and test systems that empower and enable older people (aged 60+) in rural areas to:

  1. define what support they need;
  2. participate in the design & delivery of services; and
  3. develop solutions for themselves to reduce loneliness and improve their quality of life, health and wellbeing, based on their own interests, capabilities and preferences and supported by the voluntary, private and public sectors.

How will we do this?

HAIRE brings together existing tools for development and deployment in rural areas. These include the Guided Conversation, Social Network Analysis and Neighbourhood Analysis. The “Guided Conversation” has been developed by the University of Exeter in conjunction with our partners to make sure it is appropriate for each specific location. It is a person-centred tool that allows people to reflect on their own needs, desires, interests and aspirations. The other two tools (Social Network Analysis and Neighbourhood Analysis) help communities to understand their own assets, levels of vitality and the potential for social innovation from the ground up. By training volunteers to deploy these tools, HAIRE hopes to develop a genuinely grass-roots approach to communities developing solutions that reduce loneliness and isolation in villages. Meanwhile, HAIRE also brings together local people, local government, agencies, organisations and the voluntary sector to innovate in service design and delivery.

How will HAIRE be delivered?

There are 8 pilot sites – 2 each in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and France. Volunteers in each pilot area have been trained to administer the HAIRE toolkit which comprises a Guided Conversation tool and easy-to-use Social Network Analysis and Neighbourhood Analysis tools. Each pilot site has undertaken around 75 Guided Conversations with people over the age of 60 who are no longer in employment, from which action plans are being produced. Each community will receive its own Community Report based on these baseline data. Partners will get together to share their experiences and prepare new models of service design and delivery for their areas. The ultimate aim is gaining the participation of older people so that they have a voice and the power to design or improve access to services and products that meet their needs and wishes beyond the pilot project and into the future.

W‌atch the short video below which gives an overview of the HAIRE project.