Council leaders from Torbay have joined others from all over the UK in signing an open letter committing them to working towards tackling ageism and building Age-friendly communities.
Torbay Council leader Steve Darling and his deputy Darren Cowell have signed the letter to be published to mark the UN International Day of Older Persons (1st October).
With recent research suggesting that a quarter of people over 50 have felt discriminated against whilst doing everyday tasks or accessing services, the letter commits local leaders to work towards challenging ageism within their own communities and organisations.
The letter has been co-ordinated by the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, part of the World Health Organisation’s Global network of over 900 places committed to fostering healthy and active ageing
Torbay joined the Age-friendly network in February this year with signed pledges from Torbay Council and Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust to work towards gaining Age-friendly status and an Age-friendly Charter for the Bay.
As well as committing local leaders to take action within their communities, the letter also asks the public to be part of the ‘Journey to Age Equality’ by joining the movement against ageism.
As well as councillors Darling and Cowell the letter has also been signed by senior councillors, mayors and chief officers from 29 other local authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The letter reads:
“If we are to make real progress towards age equality, we must all work to root out ageism in our own communities and organisations. We will challenge ageism wherever we see it, whether it’s in public or in private, and ensure that the voices of older people are at the heart of our local decision-making.”
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, which supports the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, said:
“Many of us are living longer. While some of us can look forward with confidence to enjoying later life, others are being held back by outdated and damaging attitudes.
“Negative stereotypes about older age can have a pernicious effect on our self-perception, limit our ideas of what we can do as we get older and stop us making the most of these extra years.
“We are proud to have partnered with the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities on International Day of Older Persons to call for a change in how we all talk about ageing and people in later life.
“It is great to see so many influential leaders who are committed to making their communities more age-friendly, now collectively affirming their commitment talk more positively about later life. We hope everyone will join us to end ageism.”
Councillor Steve Darling said: “As someone who is registered blind I am only too aware how people can unwittingly discriminate against individuals when they fail to walk in their shoes. We need to ensure that assumptions are not made about people and that we tap the resource that older people can offer to our communities and ensure that services take account of people’s needs.”