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Big Lottery Fund Development Grant

In October we received our Big Lottery development grant and started work on consulting people ageing without children about how we can 1. Develop, roll out and support local AWOC networks and 2. Develop a support model for people ageing without children which provides the same support as family members normally do.

In November and December we held meetings in Brighton Cambridge, York, Leeds and London. We also put together an online survey so people who were unable to attend meetings could input their views and ideas too.

A full analysis is being done of all the feedback and discussions we had with people which we will feed into the proposal we will submit to the Big Lottery Fund in 2017.

In addition, we have also been looking how we will evaluate the work we do and issues around Governance to ensure we have a diverse and skilled Board to take us into the next phase of our development

The hope is that this proposal will enable the release of a larger grant to give AWOC a stable funding base for the first time so we will have the resources to do all the things we want to do to help people ageing without children.

Review of 2016

Although getting the development grant was a great way to finish the year, 2016 has seen a lot of other AWOC activity!

Our Voices

In May, we launched Our Voices, a report detailing the experiences, thoughts and ideas of people over 50 without children and highlights the key themes and issues that affect them. The report sets them in the context of 1 in 5 people over 50 having no children yet there being little understanding, discussion or consideration of how this may impact individuals, services for older people and the wider community even though an estimated 2 million people will be over 65 and without children by 2030

The report identifies 6 key themes affecting people ageing without children

  • Invisibility

  • Being judged

  • “who will tell my story?”

  • Being a carer is a trigger point

  • Practical support

  • Disconnect from other generations

And offers suggestions as to what individuals, services and the wider community can do to help tackle some of these challenges including

More support to help people ageing without children plan for their later life

Investment in advocacy and inter-generational schemes

Local policy and planning on ageing to include people ageing without children as a specific group

A national strategy to tackle the issues affecting people ageing without children.

Our Voices was launched on 16th May by Baroness Sally Greengross at a reception hosted by Frith Street Consulting. Featured speakers included Paul Burstow former Care services minister and now Professor of Health & Social care at City University, Jacq Applebee and Ming Ho both people ageing without children whose stories are in the report and Kirsty Woodard Founder of AWOC. The event was chaired by Colin Hann Executive Chair of the Beth Johnson Foundation who funded the report.

Kirsty and Ming were invited to speak on Woman’s Hour and appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show

Sue Lister who runs the York group was featured in the York Press

AWOC Conference June 16

The focus of the 2016 AWOC conference was planning for a later life without children. There is still a default assumption that all older people in the UK have children who will be able to help them in later life whether that’s everyday practical help such as shopping, basic DIY, mowing the lawn, calling or visiting to check they are OK, helping them manage finances and everyday life “admin” or more high end hands on personal care. Services for older people still plan and operate on this basis; people ageing without children know they need a plan for their later life as they cannot rely on their children and in many cases have no wider family/do not expect help form wider family.

The conference covered a range of issues including

  • The need to think positively about later life and see it as an opportunity

  • Some of the facts around ageing in the UK and the link between being positive and greater quality of life

  • Different housing options available

  • Opportunities for volunteering

  • Legal issues

The speakers were Patrick Thomson Centre for Ageing Better, Julie Apps Age UK Birmingham, Jane Ashcroft Anchor Housing, Nick Williams MHA, Andrew Robertson McClure solicitors and Patrick Shine from the Shaftesbury Partnership. Maria Hughes from Birmingham LGBT helped facilitate breakout groups

There were also 2 break sessions to talk about some of the practical aspects of planning for later life where people thought about

  • Who they would be in later life

  • What they wanted to be doing

  • Where they would live

  • How they would afford the later life they wanted

  • Who would be part of their later life

  • How they would get help if the needed it

What we learned from the conference was

That for most participants this was the first time they’d had the opportunity to think seriously about the later life they wanted

Being with other people ageing without children make conversations much easier

Mainstream services for older people are often unaware of people ageing without children and do not know to accommodate them

We need to do more to encompass the diversity of experiences of people ageing without children especially people of colour, from other cultures and backgrounds, men and LGBT

It’s important not to base all solutions on people being able to pay for them. People ageing without children do not all have good incomes savings and pensions!

There is huge enthusiasm for co housing

Advocacy services will be nowhere near sufficient to meet the demand of people ageing without children

Transitions in Later Life (TILL)

People in mid-life are often encouraged to plan financially for their later years. However there’s little resource or knowledge on how to plan emotionally and psychologically for this time.

Transitions such as retirement, moving out of the family home or deterioration in health are often difficult. They can for example, lead to loneliness and isolation which impacts on mental and physical health.

Support to help older people deal with difficult transitions tends to be disjointed, patchy and is often only arranged in a crisis. There is a real need to shift from fire fighting to prevention, with a holistic, person-centred approach to this issue. One that starts before the problem begins to occur and which builds people’s resilience and therefore their ability to cope with difficult transitions.

AWOC working with the Beth Johnson Foundation were funded to run 2 pilot workshops by the Gulbenkian Foundation as one of a group of projects across the UK and Ireland tackling issues around planning for transitions in later life.

The workshops were held in Bexley in partnership with Age UK Bexley and in Bournemouth in partnership with PRAMA care. The workshops looked at what it means to live a positive old age, tackled myths around ageing, explored how mindfulness and CBT techniques can help develop a positive mindset for later life and some practical elements around planning for later life.

It is hoped that more workshops will be funded in the New Year

For more information about Transitions in later life see

Help if you are struggling with ageing without children at Christmas

Christmas and childlessness

Community Christmas has details of events that are running across the UK on Christmas Day whether you are looking to help out as a volunteer or attend in your own right

Stand Alone festive guide for people estranged from their family

The Silver line will be open Christmas Day providing information, friendship and advice to older people 0800 4 70 80 90

For the 6th year running Sarah Millican will be running “join in” on twitter on Christmas Day for people who are alone or feeling lonely. If you are on Twitter simply search for the hash tag #joinin to participate

There will be people on the AWOC facebook group, if you’re not a member you can join it here


It has been a great year for AWOC and we have achieved an enormous amount on very little money. Enormous thanks must be extended to Kirsty who runs AWOC full time and until the Lottery grant came in, entirely unpaid. Thanks also to Dulce Sanches who keeps things organised behind the scenes, to the AWOC Board members Jody Day, Natalie Kontarsky and Janice Leeming for all the hard work and to Mervyn Eastman who helped get AWOC off the ground and who stood down from the Board this year. Special thanks in particular to Sue Lister, Ann Murray, Jean Basson, Emily Axel, Louise Barson and the Brighton steering group for the help and enthusiasm with local groups and to Ming Ho and Jacq Applebee for their courage in speaking publicly about ageing without children.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us in our campaign to get the issue of people ageing without children recognised and understood as part of policy and discussions on ageing

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful 2017

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