older londoners

Let’s Celebrate Older Londoners!

In this blog, we hear from London Assembly member Jeanette Arnold, who explains why we should celebrate older Londoners on the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October.

The number of older people in London is growing. In 2016, over 1,021,000 Londoners were aged 65 or over, with 140,000 of those aged 85 or above. Behind these figures are people. They are our parents and grandparents, our friends, colleagues and neighbours. They are as significant and valuable a part of our society as any other demographic. So, it is frustrating to see that barriers preventing older people from getting the best from society – not least friendship and work – persist.

Age discrimination has been described as the last bastion of prejudice, with our unconscious biases tending to stigmatise those who are older. These ageist attitudes are often reflected and amplified by the media. Older people tend to ‘disappear’ from advertising, newspapers and television screens – and this is a trend that particularly affects older women.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Age UK London has found that, for 44,000 older Londoners, loneliness is a daily reality.

Here at City Hall, we’re challenging ageist misconceptions. Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility, and Community Engagement, Matthew Ryder QC, recently announced at Age UK London’s “Tackling Loneliness” conference, that London has signed up to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities. He’s also linking in with an older people’s stakeholder network, to ensure the voices of older Londoners are heard within City Hall.

The International Day of Older Persons falls on the 1st October and is an opportunity to break down stereotypes of older people as passive and dependant. Because older people can be agents of change and older campaigners have made great strides in protecting their rights worldwide.

Growing older does not diminish a person’s inherent dignity and fundamental rights. Let’s celebrate older Londoners on the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October!

Jeanette Arnold

Jennette Arnold, OBE is a Labour and Co-operative Party politician and member of the London Assembly representing the London Boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.

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