By Sean Tunnicliffe, Communications Officer, Leeds Older People’s Forum

LOPF received an email from Simon Peyton, Communications Manager at Anchor Housing earlier this week about a new campaign that Anchor is launching in autumn.

The campaign is called Standing Up for Sitting Down and it will call for will call for high streets and retailers to provide more seating for older people so they feel more inclined to use the high street.

Anchor says that this follows evidence that older people are currently unable to access their high streets and shopping centres as much as they’d like due to a lack of seating and resting areas.

Age Friendly

This is a subject which LOPF feels is important and one which also ties in with Leeds’ campaign achieve Age Friendly City status as adequate public seating isn’t just an issue for older people (and don’t get us started on adequate provision of public toilets).

Seating seems to have become something of an afterthought when it comes to designing modern shopping centres and I’m not sure when this happened (or why).

Past times

Maybe I’m just looking through rose tinted glasses but I’m sure that this never used to be the case, shopping centres and precincts always seemed to be designed with lots of seating in the past.

Council estates which had shops on them always had seats on the routes to the shops so people could rest going to and coming back from shopping. There were even shops which were happy to provide a seat for customers with tired feet.

These days in shopping centres seats are few and far between (and sometimes non-existent) and the public toilets are nearly always on the top floor. There also seems to be reluctance on the part on new shopping centres to take on the needs of older people.

Are you sitting comfortably?

This shouldn’t be seen as a simple case of more seating though but also of suitable seating; much public seating seems to have been designed with little thought given to comfort and support with no back rest or arm rests (some people need these to help get themselves up).

All too often Aesthetics seem to be more important than practicality with seating that looks nice but isn’t comfortable.  The seating at many bus shelters in particular seems to have been designed in order to actively discourage people from sitting on it.

Hopefully this new campaign will see improvements in public seating and encourage older people to get out to city & town centres and shopping centres. Independence is important to older people are no different.  Being able to go and do your own shopping and/or meet up with friends is something many people enjoy so why shouldn’t older people get to do it?

If you want to read more about the Standing Up for Sitting Down campaign you can download the letter we received here.