As part of 2020’s World Childless Week, Wednesday 16 September will focus on issues facing  people ageing without children.

In the UK

And yet this large and growing group of older people (there are 4.5 million people over 50 without children) are almost completely absent from coverage around ageing. World Childless Week aims to redress this invisibility on 16th September by focusing on both the growing numbers of people ageing without children and what they  are doing to make themselves and the issues they face more visible, combat stigma and to be proactive in later life planning. At a local level, people ageing without children are carrying out some inspiring work.

Sue Lister runs a group for people ageing without children in York https://www.awocyork.org.uk/ which gives people ageing without children both a place to meet other people in a similar situation, but also a gateway to finding out information about local services that can help them. The group which has been running for 4 years has grown in size and strength with over 120 people on its mailing list, and has been recording members’ stories and experiences throughout the Covid19 pandemic to add to a citywide archive. Sue’s theatre company, Real People has also written a play called ‘No Kidding’ about the challenges faced by people ageing without children which they have performed around the country.

Clems Garden https://www.clemsgarden.co.uk/ a social enterprise based in Huddersfield is run entirely by a core ‘Team Clem’ group made up of members who are 50+ and who don’t have children or grandchildren to channel their care, skills and experience into.  They work together to grow and sell flowers, supporting local charities and community projects with our profits.

Large organisations too have seen the need to better understand and support people ageing without children. The National Care Forum https://www.nationalcareforum.org.uk/ has commissioned a toolkit for organisations on being “AWOC Confident”  which should be available in the Wi

Vic Rayner NCF Chief Executive said  “Now, more than ever, we need to raise the voices of those ageing without children. Too many assumptions are made in the development of policy and services without considering the needs of this growing group of adults. Adult social care needs to be accessible and appropriate for all, and we think being AWOC Confident is fundamental in ensuring that providers of care develop and deliver care that meets everyone’s needs – without or with children”

Independent Age https://www.independentage.org/ have identified people ageing without children as being one of the “seldom heard” groups of older people and are participating in the Taking Control webinar on AWOC day.

Kirsty Woodard who has campaigned on ageing without children for 6 years said “it does feel that finally the issue is coming out of the shadows and being talked about though we still have a long way to go. The discussion around family visits to care homes during Covid19 is a case in point. People who do not have children are more likely to be in care homes, but we hear absolutely nothing about them or from them. They are to all intents and propose invisible”

 World Childless Week hopes to change this invisibility for good so that people ageing without children receive the support they need