Caring for carers – round up of Carers Week

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, speaking with older carers in Oxfordshire.
The Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, speaking with older carers in Oxfordshire.

Last week marked 2015’s Carers Week- a week dedicated to raising awareness about the vital role carers play in their community, and most importantly, a week dedicated to giving carers a treat.

The week, organised by Age UK and six other supporting organisations, focused this year on ‘building carer-friendly communities’. Each day had a theme of its own, with Older Carers Day falling on Friday 12 June. Carers Week this year fell helpfully within the first month of the new parliament, and only two months after the first round of Care Act regulations protecting carers’ rights were implemented for the first time- a hot topic of conversation throughout the week.

All in all, this year’s Carers Week was the most successful yet. The Parliamentary launch event which you can read about here, saw over 130 MPs meeting carers and finding out what it’s really like to care for a loved one on a daily basis. The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, even dropped in to an Older Carers Day Cream Tea in his constituency. He thanked the carers he got to meet, and commented on the importance of their role within Britain’s ageing society.  We hope this will be the start of a positive and fruitful relationship with the new parliament as we work to make sure carers get the support they deserve.

Outside the political arena, other advances were made to improve the wellbeing of carers. Often caring can take a huge physical and emotional toll on the carer, so events like Carers Oxfordshire’s ‘Because I’m Worth It’ where older carers developed a wellbeing plan for themselves, are essential. Carers across the country were offered massages, free cakes at local cafes, and opportunities to have a chat with people who understand what it’s like to care. In addition, there were thousands of information and advice events- like Age UK Cheshire East’s information stand in a local Sainsbury’s – which are vital for making sure carers get the information they need to stay well. Keeping a carer well is, of course, linked to keeping the person they care for well, too.

At the final count before the week launched, over 2,200 individuals and organisations had signed up, there were 1,730 pledges of support and thousands of events set to take place around the UK- it seems  there is no shortage of care for carers.

For more information about our Care in Crisis campaign, visit Age UK’s dedicated website pages, or

General Election Series: Our election journey

Liz (pictured right) speaks to Liz Kendall, who represented the Labour party at the Age UK Rally


On polling day the last blog from our General Election Series is a guest post from Age UK Sunderland. It charts their journey from the Age UK Rally in London to their local hustings in Sunderland. 

For us here at Age UK Sunderland, the run up to the General Election has been hectic – we’ve been involved in national campaigns, and things a little closer to home, all with the aim of making sure whoever represents us in the next Parliament helps to make this a great place to grow older.

Our election journey really began on a chilly morning in late March, when I, and five older people, boarded the 6.45am train to London from Sunderland.

Age UK Rally 

We spent the day at Age UK’s Rally – along with 250 older people – listening to representatives from the five main political parties and explaining how they would improve the lot of older people if they were successful on polling day.

It was a unique opportunity to get our points across – two of our contingent posed their questions to the speakers, whilst another spent her lunch break chatting with one of the speakers about the issues which are hitting older people hardest.

The sense of purpose in the room was palpable – the conversations didn’t stop over the breaks, and we gained as much from chatting with our fellow activists and peers, as we did from hearing from the speakers.

Local hustings event 

We returned to Sunderland pleased to have been lucky enough to attend the rally and be directly involved- but for me, our day in London was only the beginning.

Two weeks later we held a local hustings event, which saw the five main parties’ candidates field questions from a more intimate group of 20 local people.

A whole range of issues were discussed: from universal benefits for older people, to the state of health and social care for those in later life.

BBC Look North sent a representative to ask the audience ‘is it worth voting at the Election?’ This sparked a debate about voter apathy and turnout, which was televised later along with a mock election.

Election debate in Gateshead 

Following this media appearance, we’ve also sent members of our network to an election debate held in Gateshead just a week before the election.

There has been opportunity after opportunity for our members to get involved, from the events I’ve described to the campaign postcard which allows older people to write directly to their candidates for free.

As a result, it’s been a really rewarding campaign, with huge levels of involvement. It is obvious to me that the people of Sunderland are passionate about making our area, and the UK, a great place to grow older. Let’s hope the next Parliament feels the same.

Today, we will all vote to choose our future MPs and the next UK Government. It’s vital that once elected our politicians act on the issues that affect older people, today and tomorrow. Ask your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to become Age Champions


General Election Series: Making a (huge) contribution


This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights the significant role older people play in society. Our ambition for the next Parliament is a world where everyone can participate in society and be valued for their contribution. 

Older people make a huge contribution to society, going well beyond what is widely recognised. Age UK has previously estimated that all the work, caring and volunteering done by the over 65s adds up to a huge contribution of £61 billion to the economy.

But it’s about far more than just the hard economic value – being able to take an active part in society can make a huge difference to the lives of older people themselves, their friends and relatives, and everyone else too.

It is therefore extremely important that this contribution is fully recognised, and to make sure that barriers preventing people engaging in their community, accessing local services or going online, are tackled, so that everyone who chooses to do so can participate. Continue reading “General Election Series: Making a (huge) contribution”

General Election Series: Vote later life in 2015


Age UK pre-election rally for older people at QEII Hall Westminster with political party MP's

This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights the key policy commitments from the party’s manifestos that are relevant to older people. This post was contributed by Hannah Pearce, joint Head of Public Affairs, at Age UK. 

I’m not sure what the collective noun is for a collection of manifestos but we were certainly hit by a flurry of thick wads of paper this week. The parties have finally pinned their colours to the mast and published their manifestos – which have been met with varying degrees of enthusiasm and cynicism. And we’re now in the last leg of what has felt like a long election campaign, with voting day less than 3 weeks away in what’s been termed the most unpredictable election in a generation.

Age UK wouldn’t dream of advising people about how to vote – indeed we’re rightly prohibited by charity and election law from doing so. However we are very keen to engage voters in the election and specifically to encourage people to question the parties and their local candidates about their plans to make this country ‘a great place to grow older’. A few months ago Age UK launched our own manifesto with a wide range of ideas and proposals explaining how this could be achieved. Continue reading “General Election Series: Vote later life in 2015”

General Election Series: Health and social care high on the agenda at Age UK Rally

General Election rally
Age UK’s General Election Rally

This week’s blog from our General Election Series is a guest post from Mary, a campaigner from Norfolk, who came to our General Election Rally in London on Tuesday 24 March. 

With the Care Act 2014 coming into force on the first of April, we spoke to Mary, from Norfolk, about how the issues of health and social care dominated Age UK General Election rally on 24 March.

‘Last week, thanks to the efforts of Age UK, and along with 250 other  representatives of our older population, I was given the opportunity to both listen to and question senior politicians, including David Cameron, on their plans for older people’s services, should they be elected.

‘Other than applauding speakers on the triple lock, highlighting the need to retain universal benefits such as the bus pass, and voicing regret that today’s pensioners will not benefit from the new state pension, the bulk of the day’s discussions undoubtedly focussed on care and the NHS.  Continue reading “General Election Series: Health and social care high on the agenda at Age UK Rally”

General Election Series: Feeling well


This week’s blog from our General Election Series examines how everyone in later life should have opportunities to enjoy life and feel well. 

The dominant story on older people’s health is often rooted in the view that not feeling unwell is all you can expect as you age. Whatever happened to wanting to feel well?

This may only be a minor linguistic distinction, but it is an important one. This popular perception is partly reflective of how health and care services operate, typically geared to responding to crisis.

Assumption that older age = poor health

But there is also a general fatalism in what health and wellbeing in later life means to people. The likelihood of remaining active and living well into late old age is often underestimated, while the assumption that longer average life expectancy is automatically linked to being in poor health is overestimated. Continue reading “General Election Series: Feeling well”

General Election Series: A rallying call for a great place to grow older

Older campaignersThis week’s blog from our General Election Series focuses on Age UK’s General Election Rally, which was held on Tuesday 24 March 2015.

Yesterday, Age UK held a General Election Rally event to give older people the opportunity hear from representatives from the five main political parties about their policies to make the UK ‘a great place to grow older’.

Although the media coverage over the last 24 hours has focused predominantly on the audience’s heckling of the Prime Minister, our first speaker, there was much more to the day. Continue reading “General Election Series: A rallying call for a great place to grow older”