This blog was contributed by Nicola Robinson, Age UK’s European Political Adviser.
2012 wasn’t just the year of the London Olympics, and the Queen’s Jubilee, it was also the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012).
Like London 2012 – recognised as happy and glorious, EY2012 leaves us with much to celebrate.
The Opening Ceremony took place in Copenhagen – a pretty good place to grow old, with impressive participation rates in employment, volunteering and all sorts of fun.
Commissioner Andor fired the starting pistol and Eurocrats were off to a flyer, producing a bumper crop of pan-European reports, including a Statistical Portrait, 2012 Ageing Report, and Eurobarometer Survey.
There are now 182m Europeans aged 50+, living longer, more active lives than ever before.
To celebrate, Age UK hosted a World Café, organized by older people, inviting 100 Europeans aged 50+ to help change perceptions of ageing. We also celebrated the huge contribution of older people at our Volunteering Awards, supported by the European Commission and Parliament. And we celebrated physical activity in later life, through our Fit as a Fiddle programme, which won EU and WHO plaudits.
Northern Ireland struck gold with EU recognition for Linking Generations; Wales’ Ageing Well programme got a head start in the race to be a European Innovation Partnership reference site; Scotland’s creative ageing festival Luminate lit up October like the year’s closing fireworks; and Age UK got the national jury’s vote in the EY2012 awards for “Through Other Eyes” and “Oldham Expectations”.
As the year ends Team GB (and NI) are near the top of the table, with 72 EY2012 initiatives.
The lack of dedicated funding proved no barrier to resourceful older Brits, organizing their own activities and events all around the country. The word on the street (certainly in Smith Square, the EU’s base in London) is that this European Year has been the UK’s best yet.
The UK is currently 5th in the EU27 under the new active ageing indicators – out of the medals, but punching above our weight (on GDP per capita).
The final Olympic parallel is legacy. Will EY2012 deliver EU policies to improve later life? Will an age-friendly Europe be a reality by the time of Rio 2016? Watch this space!