Letter from the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities – International Day of Older Persons’ 2020


This letter was sent to mark the International Day of the Older Persons’ (October 1st 2020), addressed to Torbay Council leader, Steve Darling and chair of the Ageing Well Torbay Programme Board and lead on Age-Friendly status for Torbay, Judy Grant.

Dear Cllr. Darling and Judy,

Since our joint letter last year committed to stamping out prejudice and changing the way we talk about ageing, the world has changed and a spotlight shone on the lives of older people. The pandemic has revealed incredible community spirit and resilience, demonstrated in the heart-felt response in communities, post lockdown, that sought to help those who were shielding. However, we are also seeing a widening of inequalities and an ageist narrative that continues to equate later life with vulnerability. As we develop plans for how to recover from the pandemic, we need to put ageing back on the agenda to ensure that no one misses out on a good later life.

This October we are highlighting the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020 – 2030, part of the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health. 194 countries have signed up – including the UK – and in addition to tackling ageism, and improving access to long-term care, the decade will see action to develop more age-friendly communities.

Over the past four months we have been working with your age-friendly representatives to develop common messages that communicate the contribution your borough can make as a member of the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities to a successful decade. This shared role has been determined across the network as:

  • Ensuring that active and healthy ageing is seen as everybody’s business by building relationships, learning and collaboration across sectors, services and between generations.
  • Ensuring that all older people are respected, listened to, and can contribute to decision making in the communities that they live.
  • Embracing the diversity of older people, addressing inequalities and ageism, building more equitable places for us all to age in.
  • Advocating for the physical infrastructure that meets the needs and aspirations of older people, including digital, housing, transport and public spaces.

At the end of this month, we are bringing older people from age-friendly boards and steering groups across the network together online, to begin defining how we will judge success by 2030.

Thank you for your leadership of this issue. It is critical to the success of age-friendly communities and the Decade of Healthy Ageing that leaders like yourself not only commit to action locally but also champion this issue with colleagues across sectors and across the country so we can build the momentum and accelerate progress.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve this,


Anna Dixon,

Chief Executive,

Centre for Ageing Better