We live in remarkable times as a child born in the UK today has roughly a 1 in 3 chance of reaching their 100th birthday 1. As a nation we’ve never lived so long. But if longevity is to be celebrated by everyone, we need to rethink ageing and tackle the complex issues that prevent many people from living well in older age. This is a formidable challenge but it is at the heart of our work at Independent Age.
Our quality information and support is available when people need it, with clearly-written advice guides and factsheets accessible on our website and a dedicated telephone advice line. We continue to expand our information, advice and friendship services to provide a lifeline to individuals and local communities. Through the Campaign to End Loneliness, which operates as a department within Independent Age, we have helped put a spotlight on the extent of these issues and the need to bring communities together. But if we’re to deliver greater impact, we also need to plan ahead and help ensure that obstacles do not become significant barriers to a fulfilling and happy older age.
This means preventing loneliness by focusing on innovative new local services to tackle the problems early, such as the community-led service we’re piloting to help make connections for those at risk of becoming lonely in later life. It means taking a stand on pensioner poverty, such as the injustice of £3.5 billion unclaimed benefits each year, and tackling the ever-widening social care funding gap. We’ve made a strong start and are campaigning for better outcomes for older people in the forthcoming social care Green Paper, including the adoption of free personal care. However, we need greater public support to magnify our voice and influence.
Against this backdrop, I am proud that we have increased the number of people we’ve helped over the past year, which is due to the determination and dedication of our staff and volunteers across the UK. We have made a considerable investment in bringing in new skills across the charity to make sure that we not only help more people, but also involve them in shaping our work and securing the funds we need to help older people live well. As we develop our strategy and plans for the coming years, we will continue to listen, innovate and challenge. We will also showcase the groundbreaking work both Independent Age and others do to make a difference for older people.
I want to thank Janet Morrison who has stepped down as Chief Executive after nearly 12 years in the role. Until we appoint a permanent replacement, Independent Age is in the highly capable hands of Interim Chief Executive, Shān Nicholas. We look forward to welcoming our next Chair in October 2019; Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE is an inspirational thought leader and champion of our cause. My final thanks are to my fellow Trustees who bring their skills and experience and give their time to steer and govern the charity. We are united in our belief that Independent Age has the courage and fortitude to make later life better for us all.
Dr Justine Frain, Chair