Applications for grants of up to $15,000 to prepare communities for an aging population in is now open.

The Community Connects grants help fund projects to promote the inclusion and contribution of older people in community life.

Office for Seniors director Diane Turner said the grants were there to help communities prepare for an ageing population.

"We know that New Zealand's population is ageing, and we want to see older people being valued and given opportunities to contribute to and participate in their communities as they age."

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The fund makes one-off grants of up to $15,000 and is open to any New Zealand council, community organisation, or registered non-profit organisation.

All applications must be supported by their local council.

Last October, nine groups were awarded funding from the Community Connects Grant.

The projects funded include creating local area networks to reduce loneliness and social isolation, undertaking a community assessment, and developing an age-friendly community plan.

Applications for the current funding round close on 9 October 2020.

Age-friendly communities

The Office for Seniors outlined that an age-friendly community anticipates and responds to the needs of its ageing population, and promotes the inclusion and contribution of older people in all areas of community life.

The process of becoming age-friendly usually includes:

• Getting started – set up a steering group and deciding your area of focus
• Assessing how age-friendly your community is
• Working in partnership with local stakeholders to develop an age-friendly strategy or plan
• Implementing projects that fit with the action plan
• Evaluating progress

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The Community Connects grant's objectives are to help councils and communities to get started or to implement projects in support of a plan.

Examples of activities that could be funded include:

• Planning for population ageing
• Incorporating ageing objectives into existing council plans and documents
• Improving the accessibility of community facilities to increase their use by older people
• Developing a whole-of-council and community approach to population ageing
• Increasing the sustainability of age-friendly community approaches
• Testing and implementing local solutions to create age-friendly communities.

More information on Community Connects, including the eligibility criteria and how to apply, are available on the SuperSeniors website.