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Are you ageist? England’s first ever anti-ageism campaign launches

Are you ageist? England’s first ever anti-ageism campaign launches as new research reveals high levels of age discrimination.

The Centre for Ageing Better has launched Age Without Limits, a hard-hitting new campaign highlighting the issue of ageism.

With new data from the charity revealing half of adults aged over 50 in England have experienced age discrimination in the last year, the campaign is set to change the way we all think about ageing, tackle prejudices and empower people to age with confidence.

For people in their 50s and 60s who experienced discrimination because of their age in the past 12 months, this happened most commonly in work (37%), followed by social media and television, movies or news reports (32%), and as a consumer (32%).

For people aged over 70, age discrimination was most keenly felt on social media, television, movies or news reports (44%), as a consumer (43%) and in health or social care settings (29%).

Other areas of life where both age groups experienced age discrimination include social situations (highlighted by 22% of people in their 50s and 60s) and public transport (mentioned by 23% of people aged over 70).

The data also reveals that:

· Only three in ten members of the public think treatment of older people is good

· Over half of people think older people are less visible than younger people in society

· People aged over 50 living in the NE are the most likely to report age discrimination with more than half (53%) feeling badly treated because of their age in the past year. The South East has the lowest reported levels at 39% of people aged over 50.

With at least a third of people holding ageist beliefs, and many likely not realising that they do, the campaign will be calling on the nation to change the way we think about ageing for the benefit of everyone.

The campaign makes the case that ageism, whilst often dismissed as being harmless, is actually detrimental to the lives of millions of people, impacting their opportunities, livelihoods, health and mental wellbeing. This has a knock-on effect on our productivity and the economy. As our population is rapidly ageing, ageism has the potential to cause significant harm to our society in the future.

The three-year campaign will use advertising, PR and social media to spark debate and conversation about what ageism is and to challenge the way we all think about ageing. A new website will provide information, tools and resources, including a quiz for the nation to answer the question “Are You Ageist?”. Every year, there will be an opportunity for individuals, organisations and communities across England to join Age Without Limits in a day of action.

Dr Carole Easton OBE, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Ageism is the prejudice that’s hidden in plain sight. We see and hear casual ageism every day, it’s embedded in our society and even accepted as normal by many of us who are older.

“Ageism scars lives. It is often dismissed as being harmless, but if you look at the research, or speak to people whose lives have been affected by ageism, you will soon realise ageist ideas or beliefs can be incredibly damaging for us as individuals and for wider society.

“That is why we are launching this campaign to get the nation thinking differently about ageing, for the benefit of us all as we grow older.”

The Age Without Limits campaign builds on previous work from the Centre for Ageing Better which has detailed the extent of, and harm caused by, ageism in society. This includes research which explores public attitudes and the impact of ageism on different aspects of life including health and employment.

Key findings include:

  • Half of the UK population believe society is ageist
  • Older people are more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants for mental health issues and less likely to be referred for talking therapies than younger adults
  • People with a negative idea about later life might delay seeking medical help for a health issue if they consider health issues to be a normal part of ageing
  • One in three people aged over 50 believe they have been turned down for a job because of their age
  • One in five employers believe that age discrimination occurs in their organisation
  • Older applicants are less likely to be hired, and once employed, less likely to receive training
  • Ageism has a detrimental impact on the workforce – 460,000 people aged 50-64 are currently out of work but would like to be in work and ageism is one of the key barriers they face.

Age Without Limits campaign supporter Danielle Barbereau said: “I am delighted that the Centre for Ageing Better have launched this new campaign to tackle the scourge of ageism.

“Having experienced ageism myself, I know first-hand how harmful it can be. Our society would be a much better place if we did not have its negative influence holding us back. Don’t underestimate us, we can still play an important role in society.”

Heléna Herklots CBE, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “I’m pleased to support the Centre for Ageing Better’s new campaign to highlight the issue of ageism and age discrimination in England and to educate the public on the negative impact it can have on older people.

“Ageism underpins many of the issues faced by older people and often results in negative stereotypes, unfair treatment and people’s rights not being respected and upheld. It can also influence decisions on everything from the health care we are offered to employment opportunities, directly affecting older people and impacting everyone’s ability to age well.

“I hope that by furthering the conversation on ageism, the Age Without Limits campaign will encourage people to question their own views and beliefs, as well as empowering people to speak out and challenge ageist language and views. The campaign is also calling for an Older People’s Commissioner for England which I wholeheartedly support. This will help towards building a society that no longer considers ageism acceptable and challenges it in all its forms.”

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