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17th June 2011, 9:46am
Lincoln research project celebrated as a Big Idea for the Future
Big Ideas The University of Lincoln’s work on the project Community Action and Older People as Assets has been chosen as one of the most important research projects taking place in universities today, with the publication of the Big Ideas for the Future report.

The report, which is being jointly published by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK, pulls together the leading research projects currently taking place across UK universities. Research from all fields, including science, social sciences, engineering, the arts and the humanities, were eligible to be included and the University of Lincoln’s project was selected for inclusion from hundreds of submissions. The report is narrated and backed by high-profile celebrities such as Professor Lord Robert Winston, Dr Alice Roberts and Professor Iain Stewart.

Community Action and Older People as Assets sees the University of Lincoln engaging with many regional partner agencies in the ‘Excellent Ageing’ project, and an aspect of this work – ‘Older People as Assets’ - has been included in the report.  

Excellent Ageing is a transformational programme based upon the ‘whole systems’ concept of 'Total Place', which seeks to harness the social and fiscal capital of a locality in the pursuit of long-term solutions. Led by key stakeholders in the County of Lincolnshire (service user and patient representatives, the Primary Care Trust, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, District Councils, County Council, the Department of Health, Age UK and other voluntary organisations and the University), the Excellent Ageing project seeks to radically improve the opportunities for people in Lincolnshire to enjoy an active and happy later life.

Nigel Horner, senior academic in Social Work at the University, is a member of the research team. He said: “Lincolnshire’s population is ageing faster, proportionately, than in many other parts of Britain, but it is essential this change is seen as an opportunity rather than as a ‘problem’. Across the world, many older people wish to continue to work, to make a contribution, and to make a difference.”

The Community Action and Older People as Assets research project is examining the social factors that support the promotion of older people as educational and cultural ‘assets’ within their community and how the educational experience of younger people is enhanced by engagement with older members of their community.  Working alongside a team of professional and community volunteers, including the North Kesteven District Council, Lincolnshire Police, Churches Together and Hykeham Lions, the research team is currently looking at an initiative which links older people to secondary schools, with a pilot being underway in two North Hykeham secondary schools.  

This research aims to develop a framework to support an understanding of an asset approach, including how they can be built and strengthened. The research could lead to an evidence-based County-wide initiative in schools, making best use of school facilities in term of meal provision, transport and other resources that can contribute to meeting  the needs of older people whilst enhancing the educational experience of children and young people.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair Elect of RCUK said of Big Ideas for the Future: “Research has an impact on all our lives. Whether it is a breakthrough in experimental science, or an invention that makes new things possible, or a project that leads us to understand better the strengths and weaknesses of our society, research is the key to the UK’s growth, prosperity and wellbeing. Big Ideas for the Future showcases just some of the excellent research being carried out in UK universities that achieves these aims. It is vital we continue to support the talented individuals whose work makes a real difference.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “The research that has taken place at UK universities has helped to change the world and the way we live, whether that’s discovering DNA, inventing the world’s first computer or finding cures for life-threatening illnesses. It is great to see this tradition of world-leading innovation continue and get an insight into the many inspiring and potentially-life changing projects currently being developed by our universities. I would like to congratulate the University of Lincoln on their inclusion in the Big Ideas for the Future report, and wish them the best of luck with their research.”

The publication of the report forms part of the second annual Universities Week, which takes place from 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities.  Universities Week looks at the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives — from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures.

To download a full version of the report, please visit For more information on Universities Week, visit

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