Yesterday, I went to NO NEGATIVE, an exhibition of winning photographs that are challenging and stimulating debate around perceptions of ageing. The photos were all entries in a photo competition launched by the Age Action Alliance last September, to mark the second anniversary of the Alliance.
Two years ago today, on 30 September, the Age Action Alliance was launched. Just over 100 cross-sector organisations and older people joined together with a shared commitment to promote collaborative working and provide practical solutions to improve older people’s lives.
With the support of Age UK and the Department for Work and Pensions – providing joint secretariat to get the network going – and input from Alliance members and supporters, the network has now grown to an impressive 439 members! Continue reading “Age Action Alliance celebrates its 2nd anniversary”
This blog was contributed by Emily Georghiou, Age UK’s Public Affairs Adviser – Age Action.
I recently had the privilege to attend the 2013 signing of the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities on behalf of Age UK. Over 40 mayors and representatives were present from over 60 cities and municipalities across Europe, all committed to making their localities great places to grow old.
The Dublin Declaration was originally signed in 2011, during the 1st International Conference on Age Friendly Cities.
Building on this and timed to coincide with the Irish Presidency and EU Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing, the Dublin Declaration 2013 includes a new EU pledge to uphold a set of principles to measure, benchmark and drive future development of age friendly cities. Continue reading “More cities sign up as Age Friendly Cities”
This guest blog was contributed by the Age Action Alliance.
Last week, a new kind of partnership came of age at Age UK. The Age Action Alliance – the network for partnership working and practical action to improve later life – celebrated its first anniversary with a ‘winter warmth’ themed Parliamentary reception.
It is just over a year since the Cabinet’s Social Justice Committee asked Age UK to help promote cross sector collaborative action on ageing, providing joint Secretariat with the Department for Work and Pensions. The Alliance is a vehicle to develop society’s response to demographic change, encouraging collaboration and recognising that there are areas where systemic success cannot be achieved by any single sector or organisation. Over 260 organisations are now members of this unique network. Continue reading “Guest blog – Working together to curb the cold weather”
The needs and aspirations of older people deserve more serious attention – not just because they are a fast growing element in the population. They can no longer be lumped together and stereotyped as passive and undemanding ‘pensioners’: they are the best educated, fittest, most diverse generation of older people we have ever seen in history.
Yet perversely, their numbers include a growing group of the most socially excluded people in society. Approaching one in five live below the poverty line, millions are living alone, and clusters of supportive family members living nearby is a thing of the past. Traditional networks centred on post offices, local bank branches, or village or neighbourhood retailers, are dwindling. The digital age is advancing relentlessly, and a generation of older people are being left in the slipstream. The loudest voices in society are calling for choice and ‘personalisation’, but this is merely confusing if not supported by information and advice.
Government, public services, the commercial world and the voluntary and community agencies need to take a fresh look at the older population in all these dimensions. And against a backdrop of austerity, all need to find sharper, smarter ways of reaching out to older people.
That is the simple starting point of the Age Action Alliance. The objective is to:
- bring together in new partnerships organisations which have neither thought nor needed to collaborate in the past,
- explore ways of working together which can share insights, knowledge and resources,
- seek new ways to deliver information, services and support to older people.
The focus is on people who are socially excluded or at risk of landing there.
Do we need a new organisation to do this? Is there not a lot of this happening already? Of course there is, and where there is good practice we want to celebrate and pluralise it. The organisation is essentially a coalition of the willing, sharing and developing ideas through a website.
There will be a lively discussion about the Age Action Alliance at Age UK’s Agenda for Later Life conference on 8 March. The initiative for the Alliance was taken by Age UK and the DWP, but it is ‘owned’ by the partners who step up to work together. Too many good ideas have been lost as funding streams dried up, or the wilful individuals driving them moved on. Society is facing unprecedented changes and tensions, but out of that we want a better deal for older people.
As part of our Pride of Place campaign to promote better neighbourhoods for older people we invited Paul McGarry from Manchester City Council to write this guest blog about his experience of Age Friendly Cities.
I’ve just finished reading an article by well-known social gerontologist Prof Alan Walker who argues (and I’m paraphrasing here) that social policy, in connection with older people, has become dominated by an “individualisation of the social” at the expense of what are sometimes called ‘structural’ explanations of, and policy responses to, ageing societies.
It is a position I have some sympathy with. Too often it seems that we – the age sector – downplay how society creates the social, economic and political circumstances in which older people create and live their lives. The result can be the endless pursuit of ‘evidence-based’ short-term interventions, whilst feeling frustration at not being able to tackle the underlying causes of ill-health, poverty or social exclusion in older age. And sometimes researchers appear content to describe the lives that older people live whilst falling short of setting out arguments for change.
That’s why I’m very enthusiastic about my time at the First International Conference on Age-Friendly Communities held in Dublin on 28th-30th September and which launched the ‘Dublin Declaration. More of that later.
The conference, which was expertly organised by Anne Connolly and the Irish Ageing Well team, attracted 400 delegates from 42 countries and featured presentations from leading European ageing researchers such as Chris Phillipson, Tom Scharf, Jenny de Jong Gierveld and Sheila Peace as well as planners, designers and political figures from across the globe. It was also an opportunity to hear the latest from innovative programmes grouped around the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly cities such as New York and Lyon as well as those from the emerging economies.
I shared a platform with Grace Chan who leads an inspirational project in Hong Kong, setting out Manchester’s vision and describing some of the work we’ve done since 2003. A well-stocked information stall was well received by delegates and Councillor Sue Cooley, Manchester Older People’s Champion, signed the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities on behalf of Manchester.
The Declaration builds on the work done by the World Health Organisation’s age-friendly environments programme. It is a tightly argued two page document which sets out nine propositions relating to ageing in the C21st and commits signees to short-term action and longer-term objectives. You can find it here.
I am a member of a small group that is now charged with developing a roadmap for the next phase of this work. In the UK a number of partners are focusing their work on this agenda through a working group of the Age Action Alliance as a step towards establishing a UK wide network of cities.
My view is that in these difficult days the Declaration and the international movement attached to it offer an excellent opportunity to tackle some of the tough structural challenges we face. I would encourage all local authorities, other agencies and in particular public health teams to endorse the Declaration and join the movement to create places, which as we say in Manchester, are “great to grow old”.
Paul McGarry, Senior Strategy Manager, Valuing Older People, Public Health Manchester