By Emily Axel, Age Friendly Campaign Officer
26 January 2016: Ageing Without Children launched their report on people’s experience of getting older when they don’t have children—either by choice or circumstance—at an event at Leeds Civic Hall.
There were approximately 50 people in attendance, many of them older people, as well as professionals interested in this area of work.
Kirsty Woodard, AWOC’s founder, explained that she formed the organisation because she discovered there were no groups or charities formally addressing this important topic.
The report states that while 1 out of 5 people over 50 do not have children, there is still an expectation that people will be cared for by their children as they get older. This highlights a gap in the already growing social care crisis.
As speakers shared their own personal stories, a recurrent theme emerged: “I took care of my parents as they got older; who is going to do that for me?”
The report highlights other themes and concerns for this group, including a feeling of invisibility, being judged for not having children, lack of practical help, and a disconnection from younger generations.
A particularly poignant quote touched on fears about having their stories told, if they are not able to tell them: “If I get dementia, who is going to tell the carers that I don’t like sprouts and hate Eastenders?”
AWOC advocates that the Government take these concerns into account for future planning, that any national strategy about ageing should include the voices of people without children. They also urge Local Authorities not to assume that people will simply be taken care of by their children or family.
They also highlighted the importance of investing in intergenerational programming, so that people without children or grandchildren can still interact with different age groups.
Attendees were asked to discuss with each other what everyone could do to support this movement. Answers ranged from individual actions like using inclusive language and asking questions rather than making assumptions, to lobbying the government for robust funding and investment in social care and support.
Ageing Without Children was founded in 2014 and currently relies solely on donations and volunteer time to run. Read more about their work here.