TOFA – A voice for over 50’s

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

It has been a long journey, but every step has been worth it and the effort invested will be repaid tenfold as the Torbay Over 50’s Assembly gets up and running.

Nearly two years ago, a group of over 50-year-olds first came together to work out how an ageing population could be best represented across the Bay – not at the expense of others, but to the benefit of others.

As mentioned many times in this column the over 50-year-old part of the population in the Bay is way above the national average and still growing – so much so that sometime around now the numbers of over 50’s will outstrip the under 50’s.

Think of that – more over 50’s than under 50’s and if you take out the children and those still in education, that leaves a relatively small and very squeezed number aged between their twenties and 49.

That is why through Ageing Well Torbay we have helped set up the Torbay Over 50’s Assembly (or TOFA for short) to ensure the majority have a voice, a strong voice that will have to be listened to, or put another way, a voice that cannot be ignored by those in authority.

Everything is in place – an Age-friendly Charter that has been approved by the Health and Wellbeing Board and therefore cannot be ignored by its members because it represents a determination by all parties to ensure the over 50’s become an integral part of their decision making.

It is not just another piece of paper, it is a document that is recognised not just locally, but by national bodies, through Ageing Better and therefore the Government and the World Health Organisation.

Or put another way it is a binding contract that must be adhered to and will not become another mouldering piece of paper gathering dust in a public building somewhere.

That is where TOFA comes into its own – its members will be consulted at every level on everything that will affect the majority of people living in the Bay – and we are not talking lip service here, we are talking meaningful consultation followed by appropriate actions.

Both Torbay Council and the local NHS have joined the Age-friendly network thereby committing themselves to deliver an Age-friendly Torbay within a couple of years.

We now have a significant number of over 50’s who have signed up as members of TOFA and that number is growing by the day as word spreads in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay and they will not be fobbed off. They will be listened to, not least because they are the majority, but because they have a wealth of knowledge and experience based on a lifetime of learning that they are willing to share.

Some might view the fact that there are more over 50’s in the Bay as a disadvantage – here at Ageing Well Torbay and though the membership of TOFA in particular we see it as an opportunity.  A fabulous underestimated, untapped opportunity that is ready and willing to be mined.

Torquay held its first TOFA open meeting at Central Church last week and if there remains any doubt as to the determination of the over 50’s to listen, learn and be listened to then that was dispelled at that meeting.

Members were consulted by the various branches of the local NHS and the council’s housing department and the feedback delivered was constructive and meaningful, so much so that several of speakers asked if they could come along again.

Paignton holds its first open meeting on Saturday, September 14th at Paignton Baptist Church from 2-4.30pm and there is an opportunity to learn more about the work of TOFA at Scala Hall in Brixham the day before from 3 pm to 5 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm. Feel free to come along to either or both.

Sit up and take note politicians, bureaucrats and civic officials – the over 50’s have spoken, and they are determined to be a part of solutions to future issues, not part of the problem.

The offer is on the table, and it is an offer that should be grasped with both hands.

If you want to know more about TOFA or want to become a free member that is kept informed of everything that is going on, email us at or call on 01803 212638. And please – spread the word.