North East’s first older people led news platform in Sunderland


31st March 2023

Topic Education, Health & Social Care
Sector Education, Health & Social Care

A Sunderland-wide news platform has been launched to shine a light on what it means to grow older in the city.

Led by older people for older people, the We’ar Shining the Light news team – made up of community reporters aged 50 and above from across Sunderland – has joined forces to capture stories that break ageing stereotypes and gather positive stories of later life. As well as reporting on arts and culture, sport and nostalgia stories, the team will also shine a light on the challenges faced by the ageing population.

The team already has 15 community reporters and is primed to grow. To support the development of the news team, a free training programme is starting this month (April 2023), to upskill new and existing team members in online workshops. The workshops will cover a variety of skills from writing a news story to photography, video creation and podcasting.

Jackie Nixon, Community Public Health Practitioner from Sunderland Council’s Ageing Well Ambassador programme, is heading up the news platform with monthly training support from the team behind the UK’s first older people led news platform – Talking About My Generation – based in Greater Manchester.

She said: “It an absolute privilege to support this budding news team – training them in everything from news writing, photography, broadcast interviews, podcasting and much more. This wouldn’t have been possible without the Healthy City Grant secured from the Health and Wellbeing Board”.

“This is a news team led by people who live and work in the communities that they want to serve and inform, to end ‘ageing stereotypes’ and lead the way for ‘ageing well’ across the city.

“The team want to inspire their readers to live healthier lives for longer, showcase services that can support healthy living, ensure that older people have a voice and that their views and opinions are heard, on subjects that matter to them most in Sunderland and beyond.”

Liz St Louis, director of smart cities, at Sunderland City Council, said: “With an ageing population comes new challenges to support evolving social, economic and health needs. As a smart city, we are better equipped to leverage the power of technology to both assist and empower our older residents.

“The We’ar Shining The Light news team represents an opportunity for us to connect and communicate with older people, via an engaged team of like-minded individuals, in order to support and inspire residents across Sunderland.

“This collaboration will provide a crucial link to cascade relevant information, boost confidence and promote independence for the older generation. This aligns very well to our city-wide commitment of leaving no one and nowhere behind.”

Jackie Nixon added: “Any resident from Sunderland, aged 50 plus is welcome to join the team and no experience is needed. New community reporters will be welcome at any time and can contribute as much or as little as they like, at their own pace and join the training sessions that particularly interest them. Each month will bring new and exciting opportunities.”

Sunderland is recognised as being age-friendly and forms part of the UK network of Age-friendly Communities, which is made up of over 40 cities, towns, districts, and counties working together to share learning and promote age-friendly practices.

The new We’ar Shining The Light community reporting team is working in partnership with Ageing Well Ambassadors, Sunderland Our Smart City and Talking About My Generation.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a We’ar Shining The Light community reporter and the free training programme email  or call 07979 900 326.