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All about Silver Sunday

A group of older people sat in a park, laughing

All about Silver Sunday

Lucinda Hurrey, Age UK’s Marketing and Project Officer, tells us about her involvement in Silver Sunday – a national day celebrating older people – and how it makes a difference.



Age UK has recently taken on Silver Sunday – a campaign to celebrate older people with activities and events held on a national day every October.

Lucinda Hurrey, who has worked with Silver Sunday since 2017, tells us about its history, its impact and why she’s excited to be further developing the campaign at Age UK.

What is Silver Sunday?

Silver Sunday is a national day celebrating older people, held on the first Sunday in October (this year it will be 6 October). As part of the celebrations, organisations put on special events that welcome older people – particularly those who may be lonely or isolated.

My role with Silver Sunday is to act as a catalyst, reaching out to community groups and businesses to encourage them to take part. It’s not a hard sell: the organisations I approach already recognise the need to address the issue of loneliness, understand the challenges older people face, and share the belief that later life should be celebrated.

It’s collaboration at its best. The organisers and volunteers who plan, fund and host the events that contribute to Silver Sunday are real community ‘change-makers’ and are so generous and inspiring. They make Silver Sunday happen, often with little resource, and their kindness and willingness to go the extra mile is often key to helping to reassure the most nervous guests.

The history of Silver Sunday

Silver Sunday was started 12 years ago in Westminster, by The Lady Christabel Flight and later run by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation. Christabel, Westminster City Council’s Older People’s Champion at the time, saw the loneliness epidemic first-hand, witnessing older people going for days, weeks, sometimes months, with no-one to speak to and nothing to get out of bed for.

An older lady with glasses laughing
Silver Sunday helps to make a difference
An older lady with glasses laughing
Silver Sunday helps to make a difference

In the face of austerity and council funding cuts to social care, the idea of Silver Sunday was born – a day in the calendar to celebrate older people and raise awareness of loneliness. The date was specifically chosen to be around the same time as Grandparents’ Day and the United Nations International Day for Older Persons.

Ever since, despite limited funding and a reliance on word-of-mouth marketing, Silver Sunday has continued to grow. Last year’s Silver Sunday saw more than 2,000 free events for older people, and it’s been supported by organisations like Bupa, Three, Everyone Active and English National Ballet.

How Silver Sunday helps older people

According to Age UK, 12% of older people never leave their home for a social event. While there are multiple reasons for this, including health and mobility issues, social anxiety and lack of transport among the most common reasons.

An older Black man sits painting on an easel
Activities can offer the chance to be creative
An older Black man sits painting on an easel
Activities can offer the chance to be creative

Most Silver Sunday activities therefore include a social element of some kind, such as a film screening with a coffee meet-up afterwards, to give guests a chance to make new friends. All events are also free or low-cost, to help remove any financial barriers that might discourage an older person from going along.

I have been lucky enough to go along to a behind-the-scenes tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground, a screening with Dame Joanna Lumley, a lively Bollywood dance workshop, and a particularly memorable day at the Mexican Embassy involving a lively conga led by the Ambassador’s fabulous 90-year-old mother.

Silver Sunday is also much more than ‘just one day’. ‘Silver Salisbury’ is a perfect example: a programme of more than 100 free activities for older people across Wiltshire, previously held in October but running all year round as of this year. Age UK Barnet’s ‘Silver Week’ has also been impactful – working with Barnet Council and more than 30 other groups and organisations, their Silver Sunday event in 2023 welcomed more than 600 older people for a day of music and dancing, workshops and advice sharing.

The diversity of these events is a big part of Silver Sunday’s appeal. A key benefit of Silver Sunday is that it can be a first step to reintegrating for older people who have become disconnected from their communities. Guests often tell us that they never knew that a particular group existed, despite it being on their doorstep, or assumed it was only aimed at younger audiences or families.

What does Age UK's involvement mean for Silver Sunday?

Nearly a million older people often feel lonely and 24% say the TV or radio is their main source of company. With an ageing population, these numbers are set to rise – but we know that options for in-person company can sometimes be hard to come by.

The biggest complaint we hear from older people looking for events is that there aren’t enough activities happening near them. But Silver Sunday offers everyone an opportunity to help older people in their own neighbourhoods.

As Age UK takes on the development of Silver Sunday, we hope to continue to grow its reach. With our strong network of local Age UKs, the aim is to reach thousands more older people and raise awareness of loneliness in later life on a much bigger level.

With a greater geographical reach, we can be more targeted in our approach and focus on more rural locations – places which have limited activities available to older people and areas which have a higher risk of loneliness.

By working together, the potential for Silver Sunday to change older people’s lives, help improve their health and wellbeing and reduce isolation is boundless. I can’t wait to see it grow and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Your Silver Sunday

Find out more about events near you or how to organise your own on the Silver Sunday website, or contact us with your ideas.

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Last updated: Jul 08 2024

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