Ageing without Children – Our Voices

Did you know that 1 in 5 people over 50 don’t have children and by 2030, there will be 2 million people over 65 without children.

Ageing without Children (AWOC), a charity that aims to help people ageing without children live a later life free of the free fear of ageing alone and being without support, recently held their Annual Conference in Leeds.  This is a topic under reported and under researched and they have produced  an interesting report called “Our Voices – the experiences of people ageing without children”  to raise its profile.

AWOC defines people ageing without children as people over the age of 50 without children in their lives either because they have never been parents or because their children have died, they are estranged from them or they live far away.

 Our Voices details the experiences and thoughts of this previously invisible group of older people.  This report offers more than thinking about who will provide support, help and care to those without children.  People ageing without children say they feel invisible and marginalised –  lacking a place in a family orientated society.  AWOC explain that the report aims to give room for just a few of the stories of people ageing without children to be heard, and that it is time to start to hear more.

Here’s AWOC’s report, our-voices-3 AWOC which can also be downloaded on their website or email






New year, new plans

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come”   Alfred Tennyson

At Growing Old Grace-fully we have all sat down together at the beginning of this month to think about where we need to focus our efforts in the coming year.  We have asked the questions “What is the difference we want to make in the Diocese?” “What are the changes we would like to see in the parishes relating to older people and later life by 2018?” So like the Roman God Janus (from which January takes its name) who is depicted with two faces, one looking backwards and one forwards, we have found ourselves reflecting on past events whilst looking ahead to new possibilities.

One of the possibilities we would like to encourage, is to have more dementia-friendly parishes.  Growing Old Grace-fully have registered our plans to be dementia-friendly and you can view our Action Plans here .

If you think your Parish might be interested in working to become dementia-friendly, please call Rachel on 07702 255142 or email .  We can also offer Dementia Friends Information Sessions for Parish groups to help individuals have an understanding of dementia and the small things that you can do that make a difference.


May the God of new beginnings give us hope and encouragement as this New Year opens before us with all its challenges. And may God, creator, Son and comforter be with us now and always. Amen.



Bearing fruit or going to seed? – An Autumn reflection


‘Bearing fruit’ is seen as a very positive image while ‘going to seed’ often indicates that someone is past their best and perhaps even somewhat decrepit.  Yet the farmer and the gardener often strive for plants to go to seed so that the species continues and will fruit another year.

In our Christian lives we are urged to bear fruit and also sow seeds for our own and future generations.

God’s Spirit has given us life and can make our lives fruitful: with love, joy and peace; patience, kindness and goodness; faithfulness, humility and self-control. (Based on Galatians 5.23-25).

The work of Growing Old Grace-fully hopes to encourage older people to celebrate what has been, rejoice in what is and trust in God for what will be shown to us and through us, in the times to come.

Bearing fruit, going to seed… can we still be excited by new opportunities around us, and the chance to offer ourselves in different ways in Christ’s service?  Can we be surprised and rejoice that sometimes our seeds produce an unexpected plant?

This reflection is from resources developed by MHA


We welcome Ann Morisy to Leeds, author of best-selling books Beyond the Good Samaritan and Journeying Out.

On Friday 16th October, 10.30am at Wheeler Hall, Cathedral Church of St Anne, Great George Street, Leeds LS2 8BE, Growing Old Grace-fully is delighted to welcome Ann Morisy to give the keynote address.

Older people give massive value to our society and to our churches in myriad ways, not least in the vast amount of time and expertise given in volunteering.  But have we really woken up to this?   How do we better value older people so that the focus is on the opportunities our ageing congregations offer, rather than the challenges?  And how do we as individuals prepare for later life?  Ann’s appearance at the “Called To Be Old” gathering will help in exploring these questions and reflecting on older people’s gifts.

Ann teaches about the need for older men and women to keep learning and contributing to the larger community. “As Baby Boomers are getting older, we are a pioneering generation entering this very long old age that people are experiencing today.” She works across the UK training communities in multi-generational dialogue. “We try to encourage churches not just to respond with pastoral care in relation to older people—but to encourage older people to think and reflect—and do their utmost—not to be a pain in later life. … If we fall prey to being a pain in later life, we can really wreck the lives of those around us—for decades.”

Borrowing from the futureAnn’s latest book, Borrowing from the Future: A Faith-Based Approach to Intergenerational Equity offers a faith-based exploration of intergenerational fairness, calling for the rights of tomorrow to be valued alongside those of today.

For more information and to book places, call Rachel on 07702 255142, email:

An interesting reflection.

Taken from ‘Fountain of Age’ by Betty Frieden, Simon & Schuster 1993.

This generation has a unique role in combating the “age as decline” model, which is still prevalent in Western society.  We are living longer with health and assets, and the benefits of technology – at the turn of the 20th century average life expectancy was 45 years.

It is the nature of  our human biology- and above all our human brain – that development can indeed continue beyond childhood, youth and beyond mid life up to and beyond the 70’s. It can continue to the very end of life, given purposes that challenge and use our human abilities

That is not how we look at age today. As things are now, we have good reason to fear age. We have seen, and are shown, only the losses and declines it can impose.

• In gerontology there is bias to studies of older people in institutions,/ of senility/ dementia / dependency.
• In retirement, although in the USA retirement age was raised to 70 in 1977, age discrimination continues to favour younger workers.
• The obsession with being young is characterised by face lifts, plastic surgery in general and Viagra.
• The retirement village complex, funded by business consortiums feeding on people’s fear of loneliness, illness, not coping – cashing in on the mindless conformity to the victim model of old age.

We have therefore averted our eyes from the face of age.

Finding Newness in Later Life

Srs Catherine Houlihan and Mary Bernard Potter led a quiet day of prayer, reflection and discussion for older people at St Aelred’s in Harrogate at the end of June.Sr Catherine

Sr Catherine, who was born in 1923, reflected on the opportunities as well as the challenges that growing older offers.  Since her own retirement from full time work, Sr Catherine has undertaken a number of different and rewarding roles.  “I have been ‘recycled’ in many surprising ways” she said.  Sr Catherine reminded us that God’s ways are not our ways and the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Simeon and Anna remind us that God expects surprising things from older people.

Sr Mary BernardSr Mary Bernard invited everyone to consider older age as having the potential to be a time of blessing.  “These years can be a blessing  when we come to understand that it is the quality of what we think and say that makes us valuable members of society, not how fast or busy we are.”  Sr Mary acknowledged the fear that the physical effects of ageing can bring, and reflected on the need to recognise our fears to live these years well.  “Old age enlightens – not simply ourselves but those around us” she concluded.

There was time for discussion in small groups throughout the day, and many people enjoyed their lunch in the glorious sunshine sitting in St Aelred’s garden.

“Today has been real therapy”, commented one of the attendees, “Better than medicine”.

St Aelreds delegates

If you are interested in holding a Day of Reflection for older people in your parish then call Rachel on 07702 255142 or email .