Skip to content

Age Concern's origins can be traced back to a realisation in Britain of the effects on older people of the Second World War; the dislocation and breakdown of family life arising out of conscription led to a recognition that existing poor laws failed to provide effective support for old people separated from family support networks.

Help the Aged was founded in 1961 by Cecil Jackson-Cole, with the aim to free disadvantaged older people from poverty, isolation and neglect.

Age Concern and Help the Aged joined together in 2009 to create a new charity Age UK, dedicated to improving later life for everyone. The new brand was launched in April 2010.

The Early Years


In 1940, representatives of national voluntary bodies concerned with older people and government departments were called together to a conference to consider these issues. This led within a year to the formation of the Old People's Welfare Committee (OPWC), chaired by Eleanor Rathbone. The Committee quickly gained official recognition. In 1944, the OPWC adopted the title National Old People’s Welfare Committee (NOPWC) to distinguish it from the growing number of local committees. The NOPWC agreed upon a model constitution for local OPWCs, deciding that their functions would be to co-ordinate and facilitate local action.


The dawning of the welfare state in the 1950s did not impede the development of either the NOPWC or the OPWCs. Money became available from local and central government to fund their work. Between 1950 and 1952, the number of OPWCs rose from 378 to 831. In 1955, the NOPWC became a Council rather than a committee to emphasise and explain its co-ordinating role. The number of local committees continued to grow in the sixties and the NOPWC was active in “Pioneer Work”, developing new services.

1971 - 1999

Since its inception, the NOPWC had been an associated group of the National Council of Social Services. In 1971, it became completely independent. The new name of Age Concern was adopted, to be carried alongside the constitutional title of NOPWC. The great majority of local groups gradually began to use the name Age Concern. They benefited from a unified image, a well-known public name and a name which correctly suggests that they are no longer simply co-ordination bodies but also instigators and providers of direct services.

2000 onwards

A major review of Age Concern England was undertaken over a period of several years. The process was designed to equip Age Concern to face the challenges of the next century. The exercise culminated in the establishment of Age Concern, the federation in June 2000. 

Age Concern and Help the Aged joined together in 2009 to create a new charity Age UK, dedicated to improving later life for everyone.  The new brand was launched in April 2010.

There are now over 150 local Age UKs throughout England. Together, we provide a wide range of services to help people in later life throughout the UK.  The local Age UKs are affiliated to Age UK, the national organisation, but are independent, locally-managed organisations concerned with the needs of older people in their own boroughs.

There have been local organisations in the boroughs of Hillingdon, Harrow and Brent for over 30 years. In July 2018, Age UKs Hillingdon, Harrow and Brent joined together to secure the future of services to older people across the three boroughs.