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Dear AWOC members and supporters,

Looking back at 2017, one of the most remarkable thing for us is that AWOC is still here. We started the year with high hopes of receiving a grant from the Big Lottery Accelerating Ideas programme, a process we had begun back in the summer of 2016.

However, much to our disappointment, we fell at the last hurdle with our proposal not being recommended to panel for funding. Having ploughed all of our time and meagre resources into the bid, the organisation was left in an extremely precarious position and for a time we thought we would have to close.

However, thanks to emergency grants from Independent Age and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation we were able to keep the organisation afloat and look at sustainability options.

PRAMA Care then came to our rescue with a grant to develop AWOC awareness in Poole Bournemouth and East Dorset. We are also looking at other funding sources and options. More on that in the New Year.

However, the people most responsible for keeping AWOC going are the people ageing without children themselves. When we feared we were going to close, it was knowing how much people ageing without children needed a voice and an organisation that understood and represented their particular issues that strengthened our resolve to carry on. We received many kind messages of support and donations from members which really gave us the heart to continue.

Even though it has been a difficult year, we have continued, as far as possible, to continue to campaign for and raise the profile of ageing without children.

Here are some highlights from a year which started as an annus horribilis and turned into something of an annus mirabilis:

We had an article in The Guardian at the beginning of the year:

We were interviewed by BBC Radio York;

Our Facebook

group grew to over 1300 members and one of our key priorities for 2018 is to establish a new secure online forum for AWOC;We spoke at two conferences on issues around planning for care needs;We were quoted at length in Independent Age’s Doing Care Differently report

Sue Lister, who runs the AWOC group in York, organised a session on ageing without children as part of the York over 50s festival with Rachel Maskell MP, the Lord Mayor of York, local councillors, Dr Robin Hadley and AWOC all speaking. Sue, who was awarded an OBE this year, has also written a play on ageing without children which will be performed as part of International woman’s week in March;

The AWOC group in Leeds organised two seminars, one on legal issues with Blacks Solicitors and one on housing options with Care & Repair, Methodist Homes, and Leeds City Council Home share scheme;

In Brighton, there were talks on Financial Planning from McClure solicitors, Planning Health and Welfare LPAs from Compassion in Dying as well as social get-togethers;There were also AWOC get togethers in Norwich, Oxford and Ireland.

Our plans for 2018 include:

A national conference

The production of a toolkit on how to create ageing without children awareness in organisations and communities;Resources for people wanting to set up AWOC groups;Development of a membership model; andA new online secure platform for AWOC members.

We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful 2018. We look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year

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