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John Metcalfe, Chief Executive of Isle of Wight Council, and other local leaders pledge to stamp out “outdated attitudes” to ageing

Published on 04 October 2019 12:42 PM

  • Local leaders have pledged to tackle ageism in the community
  • Open letter commits leaders across the country to challenging “deeply damaging” attitudes and language
  • Time to recognise the “many opportunities” of longer lives, say leaders

John Metcalfe, Chief Executive of Isle of Wight Council and other local leaders, have joined leaders across England and Wales in signing an open letter committing them to tackling ageism and talking more positively about later life.

With recent research suggesting that a quarter of people over 50 have felt discriminated against whilst doing everyday tasks or accessing services, the letter commits local leaders to challenging ageism within their own communities and organisations.

The letter has been co-ordinated by the UK Network of Age-Friendly Communities, part of the World Health Organisation’s Global network of over 900 places committed to fostering healthy and active ageing. The Isle of Wight joined the WHO Global network of age friendly communities in 2016, the first rural community in the UK to join the Network.

As well as committing local leaders to take action within their communities, the letter asks the public to be part of the ‘Journey to Age Equality’ by joining the movement against ageism.

The letter reads:

“If we are to make real progress towards age equality, we must all work to root out ageism in our own communities and organisations. We will challenge ageism wherever we see it, whether it’s in public or in private, and ensure that the voices of older people are at the heart of our local decision-making.”

To show their commitment to challenging ageism, and making the island Age Friendly, a number of local leaders became the first signatories in the UK at the Age Friendly Island Legacy and Learning event on the 19th September 2019.

The letter was signed on the evening by:

  • John Metcalfe, Chief Executive of Isle of Wight Council
  • George Cameron, Chairman of Isle of Wight Council
  • John Irvine, Chief Executive of Wightfibre
  • Jo Dare, Chief Executive of Age UK Isle of Wight
  • Mike Sizer-Green, Governor of Nine Acres Primary School
  • Nitin Pradhan, Trustee of Wessex Cancer Trust

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, which supports the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, said:

“Many of us are living longer. While some of us can look forward with confidence to enjoying later life, others are being held back by outdated and damaging attitudes.

“Negative stereotypes about older age can have a pernicious effect on our self-perception, limit our ideas of what we can do as we get older and stop us making the most of these extra years.

“We are proud to have partnered with the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities on International Day of Older Persons to call for a change in how we all talk about ageing and people in later life.

“It is great to see so many influential leaders who are committed to making their communities more age-friendly, now collectively affirming their commitment talk more positively about later life. We hope everyone will join us to end ageism.”

Read the full Centre for Ageing Better letter.