Healthy Ageing Through Innovation in Rural Europe | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën


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Healthy Ageing Through Innovation in Rural Europe

Priority Axis

Technological and Social Innovation

Specific objective

Social Innovation

Lead partner

University of Exeter

Start Date


End Date


Project budget

5 363 199

ERDF amount

3 217 919

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    Rural communities in the 2Seas area are at risk of dying out: their populations are ageing and poor public transport, lack of local support and facilities, out-migration of young people, reduced services, isolation and fragmented health and social care systems all negatively impact the health and wellbeing of older people (1). The numbers of elderly (aged 60+) will double in the next 30 years in the 2Seas area (2, 3). The common societal challenge for the 2Seas area is managing the needs of the ageing population whilst encouraging healthy ageing and realising the potential of older people, which has been overlooked (4). The benefits of healthy ageing are felt by individuals, communities and service providers (5, 6). However, little has been done to empower and enable  older people to define the support they need, participate in the design and delivery of services, and develop solutions for themselves with the support of the voluntary, public and private sectors.

    Main Achievements

    HAIRE (Healthy Ageing Through Innovation in Rural Europe) is an Interreg project to develop & test systems that empower & enable older people in rural areas to develop solutions for themselves to reduce loneliness & improve their quality of life, health & wellbeing. The University of Exeter is working with 13 partners in 8 pilot areas spread across rural communities in England, northern France, Belgium & the Netherlands. Together they are developing the HAIRE toolkit which has three components: the Guided Conversation, Social Network Analysis and Neighbourhood Analysis. Volunteers & social care professionals are being trained to use the toolkit in their unique localities. Each pilot site will undertake around 75 Guided Conversations with people over the age of 60 who are no longer in employment, from which 600 action plans will be produced.

    Pre COVID-19, face-to-face meetings were the cornerstone of the toolkit but as a result of the shielding of older people, virtual methods of conducting the research have been co-developed. The development of our draft pilot tools was completed & all materials were published into our member states’ languages. Our cross-border cooperation has been outstanding with every partner contributing to the creation of materials & actively sharing their learning, remaining committed to HAIRE despite C19 causing limitations. 282 older people have been recruited so far to take part in the Guided Conversations & 126 Guided Conversations are underway. We have 115 Enablers trained in using the HAIRE toolkit, with 32 individuals recruited & awaiting training: this is 184% of the identified target which is a great achievement.

    Whilst some elements of the baseline data gathering have been affected by the pandemic, opportunities arose to begin work on promoting the HAIRE toolkit to wider audiences. Partners have engaged in developing relationships with organisations interested in the transferability of the toolkit both geographically (adjacent to & beyond pilot sites) but also across sector boundaries to unexpected target groups. We are seeing opportunities for HAIRE’s person-centred approach to be applied widely, e.g. for mental health support in different vulnerable groups such as the homeless, beyond the project & into the future. We are delighted to be already building relationships with organisations that will be invited to participate in the regional & lobby workshops planned in 2022.



    Conseil Départemental du Nord

    Rother Voluntary Action

    East Sussex County Council

    University of Plymouth

    Welzijnszorg Kempen

    Université d’Artois

    M-A-P Digital Projects Ltd


    OCMW Laakdal

    Stad en OCMW Poperinge

    Solidarity University

    Devon Mind Ltd

    Feock Parish Council

    Unis-Cité Hauts de France


    Output name
    URL / Download


    Theme: Integration and educationInnovative social services
    Type: Method/service
    Target: Health institutions


    Theme: Integration and educationInnovative social services
    Type: Method/service
    Target: Health institutions