Assembly, Assemble!

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Officer

The snappily called Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) turns 70 this year and not a lot of people know that.

But perhaps we should because enshrined in that declaration is a commitment to older people and their rights.

Across the world, almost 700 million people are over the age of 60, and in just 32-years-time in 2050 it is estimated that 20 per cent of the world’s population – that is two billion people will be 60 or older.

Some view ageing as a problem, but here at Ageing Well Torbay we see it as an opportunity or even better a whole host of opportunities that are only now beginning to be addressed

In Torbay, we know that the average age of the 134,000 people is 44 and a staggering one in four are over 65 years old or more accurately 26.5% of the population which compares to a considerably lower 18.1% across the whole of England.

By 2030 it is estimated that one in three (32%) of Torbay’s population will be aged over 65 (44,700) compared to 22.4% across the whole of the country.

Here at Ageing Well we are concentrating on an even bigger slice of Torbay’s population – all those aged 50 and older – and that adds up to a whopping 45% of the population – some working, some retired, some incapacitated and some unemployed.

Some are loving life, others less so and sadly 6000 residents are isolated and or lonely because of issues such as bereavement, poor health and low income.

We also know, because we asked them, that the majority of people across the Bay have a negative view of ageing.

But we believe that attitudes need to change, and older people want and deserve to be treated with respect. End of.

One thing that older people all have in common is a vast wealth of often untapped knowledge and talent that needs to be tapped for the greater good of the whole community.

People don’t get to 50 and suddenly forget all they have learned. Neither do they get to 50 and suddenly stop doing anything, so why do we even think in those terms?

Ageing Well Torbay is one of fourteen Big Lottery Funded projects around the country all of whom are looking at utilising strengths in communities or put another way helping older people to help themselves.

It is not for us, or anyone else for that matter to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do, on the contrary, we are merely here to help facilitate older people getting the services that they want rather than the services authorities think they need.

The lessons learned from around the country are being pooled – and whilst not everything that has been tried has been successful, a lot has.

One way forward that is gaining traction around the country is giving older people back their voices through Assemblies which organise, promote and take part in local meetings and events that are relevant to older people.

Assemblies have already been established in Bristol, in Gateshead in Southend, and in York to name but a few.

A group of older people from the Bay are, as I write in Manchester and Salford talking to others who have set up an Older Persons Forum as part of their soon to be completed journey towards Age-Friendly City status.

But back to the UDHR and its 70th birthday celebrations, because as part of those celebrations the United Nations aims to:

  • Promote the rights enshrined in the Declaration and what it means in the daily lives of older persons;
  • Raise the visibility of older people as participating members of society committed to improving the enjoyment of human rights in many areas of life and not just those that affect them immediately;
  • Reflect on progress and challenges in ensuring full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons; and
  • Engage broad audiences across the world and mobilise people for human rights at all stages of life.

Here in the Bay we will be marking and celebrating the International Day of Older Persons (which is actually October 1st)  with a series of lunches in all three towns on Sunday, September 30th

To find one near you and to sign up please ring us on 01803 212638, or visit 

Power to the (older) People!