Too Old and Ugly to be Useful? Challenging Negative Representations of Older People

Has there ever been a golden age of ageing, or is that golden age now? In the past, representations of older people in literature, art, the media and everyday life have been highly diverse; stressing their positive roles in their families and communities as much as their frailty. As the numbers of older people grows, how can we promote and celebrate their positive contribution, and challenge the pervasive negative stereotypes of later life?

Find out more about the speakers and the British Academy here.

The next British Academy Debate The Best Years of our Lives? Body, Brain and Well-Being in Edinburgh on 29th April. Tickets are free and can be booked here.

Blue badge scheme – a valuable resource

Maureen McAllister is our guest blogger who tells us about the Arthritis Care Scotland campaign. There appear to be issues are arising from renewal applications for blue badges since a recent change in legislation:

The Blue Badge Scheme is an important service for people with severe mobility problems that enables badge holders to park close to where they need to go.  Having a badge can mean the difference between being able to attend appointments, work, volunteer and live independently, and being isolated in your badgeThe aim of the changes to legislation for existing Blue Badge holders and future applicants to the scheme is that they will benefit from the strengthening of the existing criteria which will ensure that the assessment process is rigorous and transparent.

However this process is having an effect on individuals living with fluctuating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.  With the burden of proof on the applicant; to successfully communicate the effect of their condition, along with the anxiety that a mobility assessment can cause, many applicants are failing to satisfy these conditions.  At Arthritis Care Scotland we have seen an increase in individuals who have held a blue badge for many years who are now finding that their review application is not being renewed.

F is 49 she has had a Blue badge for several years.  As someone who lives with a chronic auto immune condition she finds walking any distance difficult.  The fluctuating and inflammatory nature of the condition means that she has periods where, through pain, fatigue and stiffness, the effort of walking often leaves her drained and unable to work.  Having a Blue Badge means she can park nearer to her place of work and confident that she is able to continue to work.  If F were to lose her badge she feels that her ability to live independently and continue to work would be in doubt.

Arthritis Care Scotland is collating information to establish how the changes to the blue badge procedures affect the 700,000 people in Scotland who live with arthritis.
In order to ascertain whether this is a widespread problem we need to hear from you.
If you have made a New or Renewal application for a Blue Badge since 2012, which has NOT been successful, then we would like to hear about your experience.  This will help us gather evidence needed for a report on our findings.  Your details will not be divulged to any other organisation.

To find out more and share your experience, please contact;
Contact Maureen McAllister
Telephone:  07825104972

Or Chris Waite
Telephone number:  0141 954 7776

Eating well

There are so many issues around eating for older people. If you end up on your own, do you bother with making yourself a healthy meal regularly? Can you get out to the shops to buy the ingredients? People are unable maybe to chew some foods and have health issues that require a specialised diet. Yet food supplied to older people is often bought in and one size fits all.

Age Concern Dundee shared with us what they have done with their Age Scotland grant funding to ensure that all their clients get regular, healthy meals that they enjoy …

Find out more about our work in Scotland’s communities.


Community transport provision shifts up a gear

Funding of £1m towards replacing vehicles for community transport operators was recently awarded to 29 organisations by the Scottish Government. John MacDonald, from the Community Transport Association (CTA),was involved in the management of the Fund and gives us his take.

StillWaitingSupport for transport services for older people was by far the biggest feature in the applications and there was particular demand from day centres for older people. All told there were 130 applications to the Fund and total funding of more than £4m was sought so the funding has only gone part of the way to helping with the problems older people have with transport.

The response to the Government’s Community Transport Vehicle Fund has highlighted the extent of the problem but has not solved it. It’s good news that we’ve been able to get another £1m into the sector, but it only touches the surface of the problems which older people in Scotland face with transport. We had dozens of applications from day centres and other centres for older people. They told us that if they weren’t providing transport then most of their clients would not be able to get to their centres and so the facilities would not be viable. It is fine to have first class day services but if people can’t get to them you have a major problem.

The successful applicants were mainly community transport operators who made wide community use of their vehicles. Though older people are the main users of these services for shopping, getting to NHS appointments, dial a ride, etc., it was unfortunately the case that day centres were not supported through the Fund. Many of these have vehicles which are past their best and have limited lifespans. When it comes to the point where they have to be scrapped, if a replacement vehicle is not in place then this presents a serious issue for the centres.

Community transport has risen up the political agenda over the past year, and Age Scotland’s continuing campaign on this – ‘Still Waiting’ – has played a key role in this. As part of its response to the Scottish Parliament Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee’s inquiry into the future of community transport last year, the Scottish Government committed to carrying out research into the sector and, over the coming months the CTA will be carrying out a lot of this work.

Hopefully, the results of this research coupled with continued pressure will help us find a sustainable future for this vital service which underpins so many of the services in our communities.


Read more about Age Scotland’s Community Transport Campaign: Still Waiting (#still_waiting)

Find out about the impact that a Community Transport organisation has on peoples lives in this video and in The Scotsman.


Putting the FUN back in FUNdraising

Jamie Robertson, Commercial Director tells us about how David Urquhart Travel are putting the FUN back in FUNdraising for Age Scotland

Jamie Robertson, David Urquhart Travel

Jamie Robertson piles the Age Scotland van high with welcome donations

Ever since David Urquhart Travel started working with Age Scotland early last year, we’ve been thinking of ways to help raise money for the charity – and hopefully have some fun while doing so! To start with we ran a very special holiday in conjunction with Age Scotland – ‘David’s Winter Tonic’ at the Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar. This was a great night away that was thoroughly enjoyed by all present – the perfect way to blow away the winter blues!

The staff in our East Kilbride office were keen to get involved and two of our hotels department (Linda Hughes and Clare McFadden) very kindly volunteered to distribute Age Scotland Charity Bags. We encouraged staff to have a post-Christmas clear out and were delighted with the response of 51 full bags! Everyone appreciated the chance to get rid of those unwanted Christmas gifts! We also ran a book sale during February which helped to raise money (and allowed for some bargains to be bought in the office). The fundraising culminated with our cake sale where the whole office participated in baking a variety of goodies as well as bringing in all manner of sweet treats. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a day for dieting! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and ate well, with some particularly impressive cakes on display.

All of these efforts helped us to raise almost £350 plus the charity bags and was a lot of fun for all of us and we know that the money will be put to good use. We’re already thinking of the next event and look forward to sharing the details with you!


Clann an Latha an De Keep On Walking!

Our active Western Isles members group is set to become even more active due to support from our Age Scotland grant pot and from the Paths for Health and NHS Western Isles Health Walks Project.

Wicker lady group and Chris Ryan

Wicker lady group and Chris Ryan

We recently awarded Shawbost group, Clann an Latha an De, a £500 grant, which with  practical support from Chris Ryan, Paths for Health Co-ordinator for NHS Western Isles,  re-kindled the group’s involvement in the Transported Walks initiative.

Chris explains how important this aspect of the project has become:

“A primary aim of our health walks project in the Outer Hebrides is to encourage people to increase their levels of physical activity through regular walking. Our early experience was that many people preferred walking out-with their immediate community and that providing transport was key to getting those people involved.

“With this in mind we introduced a transported walks programme, initially on Lewis and Harris. Working in partnership with the local authority, I put together short programmes of transported walks in several districts. Using a minibus hired from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, we have delivered programmes for 6 groups on Lewis and Harris since 2007. Three of these groups, including the Westside Transported Group, have remained very active and the Westside Group in particular have always had very strong participation with an average of 12 participants in each walk. “

Clann an Latha an De

Clann an Latha an De walking group

Recent funding changes have resulted in groups needing to fund their own transport for the walks – so Cathie Macdonald, Secretary of Clann an Latha an De, approached Age Scotland to see if we could help. “As a group, we try to find ways of encouraging ourselves to be active and healthy, and to give ourselves things to work towards and to look forward to. As well as our get-togethers, talks and outings, members really value the opportunity for guided transported walks offered by Chris through Paths for Health and we are really pleased that these can now continue.”

We are delighted that the charity has been able to link with Paths for Health and NHS Western Isles to support Clann an Latha an De in restarting this much-enjoyed activity. Jo Cowan, Development Officer North for Age Scotland said “Giving older people opportunities to come together and to keep active is at the very heart of what our member groups do. It’s a pleasure to be able to support those aspirations.”

For more information on health walks and Paths for Health in the Western Isles, contact Chris Ryan on 01851 762 017/016 or email

Portraits of working in later life

Photographer Rick Booth is compiling a series of photographic portraits of people working into later life, and he’s looking for willing subjects.

A sample of Rick's work.

A sample of Rick’s work.

Are you over 65 and still in full time work? Would you like to help spark a bit of debate and awareness of workers who are still going strong past the traditional age of retirement?

I’m collecting a series of portraits and interviews which I hope to publish on my own website and in weekend magazines, and to exhibit publicly.

I want to challenge some stereotypes society has of older people, I’d like to hear your views on why you’re still working – do you have to? Is your pension enough to live on? Are you supporting dependents? Or do you just love your work and it’s social side? What about tax, do you feel older workers could do with a break? Do you feel valued by your co-workers for your contribution?

I’m using a camera born in 1955 – it has a few scuffs around the edges, creaks a bit in the cold but works great and gets the job done very reliably! I’m looking for people with a few of the same qualities!

Please get in touch if you’d like to be part of this project, by email to or by phoning me on 07960 747 173.