Chris's Blog: 17th May 2016 - Report conference on How Ageist Are We?


Went today to an excellent Positive Ageing in London meeting on ‘How Ageist are we?’ in central London.

There were speeches from:

Mervyn Eastman the Chair of PAiL who always gives good value and made a moving reference to visiting his mother who has dementia and reminded everyone that we should visit our parents and elderly relatives even though they may not remember everything or even us, they live in the moment and that moment of support love and companionship is very important to them and good for us.

Meena Patel – who chaired the meeting – from the National Development Team for Inclusion who had some great examples relating to the importance of treating everyone as individuals requiring respect and equal treatment.

It was also a reminded that while racism and sexism are key areas of prejudice age both compounds this and also affects more women and people from BAME communities and backgrounds. She reminded us that 28% of the population by 2025 will be from BAME communities

It reminded me that there is an employment discrimination ‘multiplier effect’ whereby being 50+ and a woman and from an ethnic minority multiplies the level and incidence of exclusion and discrimination from employment.


She finished by reminding us that older people know what works and does not work for them better than anyone else and should be asked and listened to more

Dr Hanna Swift from the University of Kent – who gave a brilliant quick summary of her research into ageism and ageist attitudes and belief which informs the basis for ageist behaviour and prejudice including self-generated.

She pointed out that age is the most commonly experienced from of prejudice and that this applies to the young as well as the old. That 29% of people were treated unfairly because of age with 24% experiencing it as a result of their gender and 15% as a result of their race. This is common across the EU

That under 25s experience it more than over 60s and that the most prevalent form of ageism was the lack of respect.

She also showed that characterising people by age leads to stereotyping which in turns gives the basis for active discrimination. So older people are not given recognition for their skills and contributions and are not seen as important as the middle aged worker, and attributes given to older people are of less worth than younger ones which impacts on the number of jobs given to older people 

Finally, there was in the morning session a speech from Amanda Coyle from THE GLA and London Mayor office where she spoke of the commitment and importance of older people in London, quoting some promises being made by the new mayor Mr Khan.

This was a message of hope but as I raised at the end the key question now is will the Mayor and the GLA put their money where their mouth is. That is to both publish the information about how many people are employed, broken into under 25s, 25-49 and 50+, by the GLA, TfL and other public service employers in London under their control and publish their record on retaining and employing older and younger workers.

The presentations will be sent to us and we will put them up as links on our website under research info.