Five highlights from the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities Annual Conference
For the first time in three years, members of the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities came together face to face at our Annual Conference.
Over 67 delegates from across the UK joined together in Birmingham for a day of workshops, speakers and networking at last month's conference.
We came together to discuss the theme “how do we build an age-friendly movement?”. Here are some of the highlights of the day, with some quotes from network members.
1) We felt the progress and potential of our Age-friendly Movement
The network acknowledged that we are working in a challenging context – the cost-of-living crisis is having a significant impact on our communities yet ‘ageing’ is too often down the political agenda locally, regionally and nationally as shared by Martin Wheatley in the opening panel. In spite of this, we really felt the collective power and energy in the room to make a difference and build a wider Age-friendly Movement.
"The power of bringing together shared experience - the movement is underway!"
2) We were challenged on our own internalised ageism
Anti-ageism campaigner Ashton Applewhite shared a powerful keynote speech on the importance of tackling ageism, building on her TED talk. She encouraged us to not just tackle ageism as professionals, but to look at our own internalised ageism and challenge ourselves when we think we are “too old” for opportunities or fear ageing.
"I’ll start thinking differently about myself getting older - try to embrace changes and experiences that come with age."
3) We raised the profile of ageism in the labour market
Emily Andrews, Deputy Director for Work at Ageing Better, highlighted in her presentation that people in their fifties and sixties do not currently have equitable access to work because of structural barriers and ageist attitudes. She encouraged us to work with employers in our areas to adopt age-friendly practices and champion effective employment and training support for older workers.
“I found Emily's presentation brilliant - so much info on work and skills packed into five minutes, yet also easy to absorb. Helpful to all of us trying to communicate this to employers and influencers.”
4) We shared ideas on how to amplify underheard voices in our communities
In one of our workshop sessions, we brainstormed how to increase the diversity of older people taking on roles as age-friendly ambassadors or sitting on our steering groups. We also discussed how to make sure our age-friendly communities are inclusive of the most marginalised groups in our society, such as asylum seekers or those who are digitally excluded.
5) We valued coming together as a network
After three years of supporting each other virtually through our weekly network peer calls, we were grateful to meet each other face to face – many doing so for the first time. We were able to share our ideas and projects, as well as listening to the perspectives of age-friendly colleagues working in different contexts, such as rural vs. urban communities. We even discussed how we can create age-friendly nights out in our age-friendly sectors session!
“What stood out for me today was the sense of camaraderie and shared values that exists in the network community.”
At the end of the conference the network shared what we would do next. We heard communities making some great commitments, from creating a local State of Ageing report, through to running an age-proud photo campaign, and committing to following up with other network members they met to collaborate further.
We will continue to come together as a network in our weekly peer calls to share research, good practice and problem-solve in order to build our movement. If you are interested in becoming an age-friendly community, joining the network and maybe coming to our next conference contact us here.