AWOC Conference Reflections

Ageing Without Children hosted a national conference in Birmingham on 27 June 2016 to talk about how to plan for a later life if you can't rely on children for help. 

The conference brought people from all over the UK to address some of the important practical questions as well as broader issues all related to ageing without children. 

Society is full of assumptions about older people's lives; referring colloquially to any ageing person as a "granny" is just one example. But a growing number of people are getting older without any children (estimates say one in five). The organisation Ageing Without Children asks the question: who will speak for this group, if there is no child or grandchild to speak up for them? 

The speakers covered topics such as legal matters, cohousing, sheltered housing, and demographic research. 

Jane Ashcroft from Anchor Housing discusses sheltered housing options.

Delegates also divided into breakout groups to think about their own images for later life, including the questions of "What will I be doing?" and "If I need help, how will I get it?" 

Q: What will I be doing? A: Don't know; Causing trouble!

On people's wishlist was a role that doesn't quite exist yet — something like an advocate but with the enhanced service of really getting to know you over a period of time, so that they could speak on your behalf about anything from medical wishes to food preferences. 

One woman poignantly stated, "What I want is a holder of my dreams." 

There was also discussion about what provisions need to be made for people on limited incomes who would not be able to pay privately for support.

Housing providers, statutory services, Governmental policy makers and the voluntary sector all still have a great deal to consider when it comes to this issue. As not having children could be a factor leading to social isolation, Time to Shine will stay involved and informed about AWOC's findings and recommendations. 

For more information and to read their report, please visit www.awoc.org

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