Institute for Ageing

Changing Age Charter

Guiding Principles

The Newcastle Charter for Changing Age was established to facilitate a step-change in how we think about ageing by drawing attention to one of humanity’s greatest achievements: increased and increasing life span.

Longevity offers huge new opportunities and the Charter aims to highlight these while at the same time challenging misconceptions about older people in society.

The Charter for Changing Age is supported by broadcasters and writers Dame Joan Bakewell, Angela Rippon, Dr Miriam Stoppard and politicians Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the Health Select Committee, and Leader of the Labour Party in the UK Ed Miliband.

The Charter for Changing Age contains eight guiding principles which articulate the work of Changing Age:

  1. Increased life spans represent one of humanity’s greatest achievements
    For the great majority of the population, health and wellbeing have improved. Illness and death have been postponed through centuries of scientific research, ingenuity and perseverance.
  2. Increasing life expectancy is an economic good
    Longevity has made, and continues to make, an enormously positive contribution to our economy. Older people are contributors and consumers of products and services, adding substantially to economic growth.
  3. Ageing concerns us all
    Those who are young today will in time be old. Those who are old were once young.
  4. Each individual has an equal place in our society regardless of age
    The blind eye that is so often turned to the scourge of ageism, in its widespread and corrosive forms, can no longer be accepted. Ageism should be outlawed to the same extent as racism, sexism and religious discrimination.
  5. Much better information about older people is needed
    We need to know about the contributions, capabilities, needs and aspirations of older people in their enormous diversity. Older people should neither be marginalised nor treated as a separate category (the elderly) within society.
  6. Older people are an under-acknowledged asset
    The mental capital and skills of older people should no longer go to waste. Arbitrary ages of compulsory retirement or of exclusion from full participation in any social activity, including education, should in future be abolished.
  7. We need to use and expand our scientific knowledge about ageing
    Transformational reorganisation and reprioritisation of health research and service provision is needed to take account of new advances in understanding the connections between ageing and health.
  8. We need urgently to adapt infrastructure for an ageing population
    Commitments are needed to begin as soon as possible to adapt national and local infrastructure for transport, housing, and communications to accommodate the changing age structure of our population. This will create major opportunities for industrial growth.

A North East Charter

All 12 local authorities in the North East have signed up to the North East Charter for Changing Age which is a slightly modified version of the Newcastle Charter to take in to account the roles of local authorities in our local communities.

A North East Charter for Changing Age

The North East has one of the fastest ageing populations in the country. In collaboration with our Changing Age team the region’s local authorities have identified that something must be done to turn around negative stereotypes of older people and ageing and also raise awareness of the opportunities that are presented by an ageing population.

The Charter is a framework to help shape the wider North East’s response to the fact that we are living longer and healthier lives. The Charter is offering all local authorities a set of guiding principles to direct policy making and strategy development in each authority and not just on health and social care but on all aspects of development be it future transport or housing, culture or work. The Charter really challenges us to think about what we need to do both as a society and individually to create communities and place.

Beyond local authorities the Charter can also be used by the wider public across the region from Northumberland to Tees Valley to raise awareness and be a call to action for individuals when they face ageism of any sort in our society. It reinforces some of the basic principles that many people (especially older people) take for granted.

Download the North East Changing Age Charter (PDF: 579KB)