Ageing without children

It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people over 50 in the UK is ageing without children, meaning that they have no children available to help with all the informal and formal support that can be needed as we age.

What does ageing without children mean?

People may be ageing without children by circumstance or by choice, and may include:

  • People who never had children
  • People whose children have died
  • People who are estranged from their children
  • People whose children live very far away

Who is AWOC Leeds?

AWOC (Ageing Without Children) Leeds is a volunteer-run group that aims to connect and inform people in the local area who find themselves in this situation. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we hosted a couple of in-person information sessions per year, covering topics of particular interest to people who are ageing without children (AWOCs):

  • Who will speak for me? Advocacy strategies
  • Power of Attorney and Advanced Directives
  • Discharge from hospital
  • Housing options
  • Making a will

Spreading the message

We also aim to raise awareness of this issue with professionals who work with older adults. Something as simple as not assuming that people have a son around the corner who can offer support can go a long way. We’ve met with some local Neighbourhood Network Schemes, as well as Leeds Adult Social Care, and hope to do more of that in the future.

AWOC Leeds during the pandemic

Like everyone else, since the start of lockdown in 2020, we had to take a pause from in-person events, and moved our focus to connecting online. We created a Facebook group and started having discussions on Zoom. Moving online has made our group more accessible to some people who might not have been able to travel to Leeds City Centre for a session, and we intend to keep online activities going post-pandemic. In some ways, AWOCs were well prepared to deal with certain aspects of lockdown. Even people whose children live down the street suddenly couldn’t see them in person any more. People had to find support in different places and different ways, something that AWOCs have always had to do.

AWOC and proud

While there are challenges to ageing without children, there are benefits too! We’re not sad people who spend all day lamenting the fact that we don’t have children or grandchildren. Some of us really enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with this. And many have been able to re-channel their nurturing side into other activities and projects. As part of the Age Proud Festival, we will be hosting a Zoom session to highlight some of these joys. Our feature speaker will be Vicky House, founder of Clem’s Garden. She will tell us the story behind the garden, and how it connects people who are ageing without children in her area. Attendees will also have a chance to share stories about their own hobbies and projects that they’re proud of; things they’ve been able to do because their spare time isn’t dominated by looking after grandchildren! The event is open to everyone, whether you’re ageing without children yourself or just want to hear more from those who are!

Thursday 16 September 7:00-8:30pm
Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 840 6812 1294 Passcode: 657354

Emily Axel
Organiser, AWOC Leeds


Age Proud Festival Leeds

It’s time to feel good about ageing

Leeds first Age Proud Festival takes place from 6-17 September at a range of venues across the city as well as lots of virtual events from the comfort of your own living room. We aim to showcase Leeds as a great, community focussed city with lots to offer older people. A place where people can feel involved and valued. Find out everything about the festival, including details of all events, at www.ageproudfestivalleeds.org

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