This month we said farewell to our Age Allies programme, which has come to an end after three successful years. Our goodbye event “Age Allies: Legacy” celebrated the work of the project and suggested ways in which the learning from the project could be carried forward into future campaigns across the age sector.
Age Allies was a Programme, funded by the City Bridge Trust, that provided free age-awareness workshops to organisations and businesses across London. These workshops were co-created with a team of older Londoners (nicknamed the Age Allies) and were designed to help participants identify their own unconscious attitudes and assumptions about older people, to help tackle age discrimination in the capital. As the programme continued, our Programme Coordinator Richard began offering brief talks that gave an overview of the workshops’ content, to ensure that even businesses that couldn’t commit staff for an entire afternoon’s workshop could still benefit from the Age Allies programme.
The legacy event – which was chaired by Age UK London’s Trustee Elizabeth – began by showcasing a video that explained all about the Age Allies project and the ways it had adapted over the three year period. You can watch the full video below:
Following that, we heard from Programme Coordinator Richard, who discussed the Age Allies programme in its entirety, explaining how the programme had developed and outlining the key concepts. He focused particularly on the concept of “unconscious bias”, which underpinned most of the exercises that took place during the workshops. As Richard said, “when we use the term “unconscious bias”, we’re not talking in a Freudian sense, we just mean that there are societal factors that are influencing and informing their behaviour without their full knowledge.” Richard also explained that on several occasions we expanded the reach of the Age Allies programme by hosting large-scale events to spread the word to as many people as possible. This included our “Evolution of Ageism” conference, which featured a series of experts discussing the topic of ageism. We also took part in Flourishing Lives’ “AGE/NCY” display at Tate Modern, which helped the project engage with hundreds of people across the weekend.
Next up, “Age Ally” Chris took to the stage to give an impassioned speech on the ways in which the Age Allies project had shaped his understanding of age and ageing – even as an older Londoner himself! Chris explained how he had first volunteered after his wife saw an advert in the Evening Standard and that he had thoroughly enjoyed working with Richard and his fellow Age Allies to help “plant a seed” in the minds of the workshop attendees.
Our Campaigns Officer John then stood up to speak. John began by saying just how much he loved the Age Allies project and spoke of the need to incorporate the key learning into our future campaigns to make London an Age Friendly City. This included ensuring that older Londoners’ voices are heard at all stages of our campaigns and also avoiding accidentally perpetuating negative stereotypes of older people in campaign messaging. This latter point is especially important for charities in the age-sector, who can sometimes unwittingly perpetuate harmful stereotypes of older people by using imagery and messaging that concentrates heavily on the difficulties older people face at the expense of positive portrayals. This is a particularly difficult situation to manage, as campaigns designed to improve the lives of older people often have to concentrate on the challenges they face in order to inspire action.
John continued by highlighting Age UK London’s upcoming plans, particularly our new “Make Renting in London Age Friendly!” campaign, which will call on more Local Authorities in London to introduce selective property licensing schemes. We’ll be providing more information about these new campaigns in the coming weeks. To make sure that you’re the first to hear any news, please click here.
Our last speaker was Rebecca Olajide from the Science Museum Group. Rebecca attended one of the Age Allies workshops and then went on to incorporate what she learned into her daily work. This culminated by asking groups of older Londoners (including our Age Allies) to tour the Science Museum with her and point out ways to make the experience more age-friendly. It was fantastic to see how the Age Allies workshops had led to real-world changes that will benefit older Londoners in future.
Following a short break, the event concluded with a Q&A section, where members of the audience had the opportunity to raise discussion points about the project. These included: how the Age Allies got involved in the project, how the learning could be applied to specific situations in London; and finally how to ensure that campaigns give a true representation of London’s diverse population.
Over the course of three years, the Age Allies programme engaged hundreds of Londoners to challenge their attitudes ageing and its final event was no different! Thank you to everyone who attended this and similar events over the last three years and to Richard and the Age Allies for making it all possible!
To take a look at our current campaigns to make London an Age Friendly City, please click here.