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Dispersed communities in age-friendly work: an intersectional approach to place-based working

Sarah Wilkinson (Centre for Ageing Better, London, UK.)
Luciana Lang (Department of Sociology, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.)
Sophie Yarker (Department of Sociology, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 6 September 2022




The purpose of this paper is to present alternative ways of addressing inequality in age-friendly work by drawing attention to the limitations of place-based approaches in meeting the needs of dispersed communities.


A case study of the age-friendly programme Ambition for Ageing (AfA) is used to explore three examples of working with minority communities.


Place-based age-friendly development risks further marginalising older people belonging to dispersed communities of identity or experience; therefore, we need to adopt adopt an intersectional approach to inequality in later life.

Practical implications

Three ways that age-friendly programmes may become more inclusive of minority groups who are geographically dispersed are identified: bringing community members together; co-production; and supporting visibility in mainstream settings.


This paper brings together insights from the AfA programme, critically assessing place-based approaches in relation to working with dispersed communities of identity. It offers some ways to mitigate limitations through adopting tailored equality approaches.



The authors’ sincere gratitude goes to all the community members and project leaders who shared their experiences. Thank you also to staff members at AfA for valuable exchanges of views. They are particularly grateful to Clare Bonetree for her input into the Equalities Board evaluation and the Dispersed Communities Project.

Ethical concern: This paper is based on secondary sources, that is, reports produced by an age-friendly programme ran by a community and voluntary organisation. As their participation was involvement in an age-friendly programme and not research, no personal data was collected and formal ethical approval was not required.

Funding: This work was supported by funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Leverhulme Trust Grant ref RL-2019-011.


Wilkinson, S., Lang, L. and Yarker, S. (2022), "Dispersed communities in age-friendly work: an intersectional approach to place-based working", Working with Older People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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