Despite the wet and windy weather, it is officially spring, and now and then we can catch a glimpse of it in the air. I am daring to hope that the spring and summer months will bring a brighter future for us all, along with the brighter days.

 If you’re anything like me, you’ll have started a lot of sentences recently with “I can’t wait until…” or “I really miss…”

Many of us are imagining what it will be like to get back to the ways of life that we’ve missed so badly. And, we’re also reflecting on how life might be different as we recover from the pandemic.

All around us, people are giving voice to the positive changes that they want for their lives. Lockdown has brought more clarity and focus about how we want our world to look in the future. 

We are making personal choices around work, relationships and lifestyle to improve our wellbeing and the world around us. We can also engage with policy and decision makers to imagine and create a better place to live, work, play and grow old. 

Making positive plans

That's why I was delighted to see two great opportunities out this week from Derry City and Strabane District Council, for people to have their say on 'Street Life Regeneration' and becoming more ‘Age Friendly’. Perfect opportunities to tell someone what you think our post pandemic world should look like.

In the past, the link between town planning and generational planning may not have seemed so obvious or important. However, the pandemic has demonstrated to us how critically interlinked the health and economy of our communities are.

The Healthy Cities Framework offers a joined up model for our COVID-19 recovery; linking the ‘6 P’s’; People, Place, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Participation. Read more.

I’d encourage everyone, to participate in discussion, consultation and debate as we start to re-imagine our communities and build forward, better.

Image of Derry City and the Foyle river and sunrise

So is it time to design our city with these things in mind? We have learned that health and economy are two sides of the same coin. We also know that there can be no trade off between our physical and mental health.

We know that where we live – our proximity to nature, quiet spaces or social spaces – places to play and to exercise all influence how we interact with people and that makes a difference to how we feel.

And if, like me, you’ve really missed going into town over the last year and are concerned that with the number of shops going out of business that it will never be the same again - then get involved in redesigning it. And perhaps reprioritising what matters and what we've missed most.

How do we make our city centre a safe, vibrant hub once again? How do we make sure that it is attractive and accessible?

I know you will all have ideas and so I’d really encourage you to make your voice heard.

Access the consultation here

I think it is also fair to say that we’ve missed our older generations more than anything over the last year.

With many of our older people shielding, we’ve realised the critical part they play in our lives and in society. Many may be retired but they have a vital role to play for our economy in caring for family members and keeping our shops and cafes going.

By keeping this in the forefront of our minds, I’d also encourage you to respond to the Age Friendly questionnaire. It’s not too long and it will help shape the long-term vision of our city.

Access the questionnaire

Need some inspiration?

Having a holistic approach to city planning and generational integration has been proven to work. We see it again and again in examples around Europe how cities have used good planning and more holistic healthcare and reaped the benefits.