Euskadi Lagunkoia is an initiative promoted by the Department of Employment and Social Policies of the Basque Government and implemented by the Fundación Matia, which aims to encourage participation by the elderly, and citizens in general, in order to improve neighbourhoods and environments in the municipalities of the Basque Country so that we can continue with our lives as we age.
Some physical environments that take the elderly into account can make the difference between independence and dependence for all individuals, but this is of special importance to those who are ageing. (WHO, 2002: Active ageing: a policy framework).
It is based on the “Age-friendly Environments Programme” promoted by the WHO.
The extension of the active and autonomous life depends largely on the friendliness of urban design, on safety and on the adequacy of domestic environments. This project is developed under the Active Ageing paradigm. A friendly environment with the elderly reorganises their structures and services so that they are accessible and adapted to the different needs and capacities of individuals encouraging their participation.
Elderly people have to be a vital part of building the foundations of the new time.
The WHO initiative adapted to the Basque Country
- Responding to the principle of active ageing, the WHO initiative primarily notices the elderly as actors for converting our towns and cities into friendly spaces. It establishes guidelines for involving municipalities in improving certain areas with the participation of these people.
- It is essential to notice a set of actions that give greater responsibility and ownership to older people's abilities and turn them into agents of change, not mere speakers on the initiative.
- Euskadi Lagunkoia Sustraietatik involves elderly people in the recovery of human values based on a work programme designed on purpose and that has a methodology adapted by the WHO.
- The Euskadi Lagunkoia Sustraietatik initiative is part of the initiative promoted by the World Health Organization, but the Basque Government, through the Fundación Matia has developed a plan based on the Basque Country's social-political reality, to the idiosyncrasies and the social model of each of our towns and cities.
To create a friendly environment, the WHO establishes a four-phase continuous improvement cycle: Diagnosis, Planning, Intervention and Assessment. This methodology is applied based on eight areas of intervention:
Transportation, so that all men and women can move easily inside and out of towns and cities.
Housing, so that we can have housing adapted to our needs.
Participation and the social fabric, fostering mutual aid between neighbours.
Respect and inclusion, working together with all generations.
Civic participation and employment, promoting a sense of citizenship and employment flexible to people’s needs.
Communication and information, knowing all of the opportunities offered by our towns and cities for fun, work, learning and enjoyment…
Social and health services, knowing what resources we have and how we can request them.
Outdoor spaces and buildings, encouraging the use of public spaces (parks, gardens, sports centres, squares ...) contributing to their improvement and sharing our favourite places with others.
- Taking advantage of the potential represented by elderly people in the life of Basque towns and cities as generators of wellbeing.
- Creating and promoting community participation processes.
- Creating a network of friendly initiatives in the Basque Country.
- Facilitating the introduction of changes in the environment in order to improve the quality of life of their citizens