FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where did the idea for AWwoC come from?
There were three key factors that brought about the founding of AWwoC:
- Despite the growing numbers of people ageing without children, their existence barely features in any discussions on ageing by National Government, local government, NHS or the third sector;
- Increasing comments from politicians saying that caring for older people should be the responsibility of their families not the state, at a time that there were also massive cuts to public services; and
- Recognition that older people without family to intercede on their behalf often have poorer experiences of health and social care, and other services.
Who founded AWwoC?
AWwoC was founded in 2014 by Kirsty Woodard whom, as CEO, runs it full time on a voluntary basis. The first directors were Mervyn Eastman, Chair of Positive Ageing in London, Jody Day who set up Gateway Women for childless-by-circumstance women and Dr Robin Hadley from Keele University who is an expert in childlessness in older men. The current Board can be found here.
Is AWwoC a charity?
AWwoC is not a charity, but a registered community interest company (CIC); CICs are not for profit organisations who must reinvest any surplus they make into the community.
The decision to be a CIC rather than a charity was deliberate as we believe that AWwoC must be an organisation people ageing without children working together and not an organisation of people ageing without children. Seeing people ageing without children as assets of our organisation with skills and abilities of their own is crucial.
What do you mean by ‘without children’?
People ageing without children includes:
- Those who have never had children either by choice or by circumstance;
- Those whose children have predeceased them;
- Those who are estranged from their children;
- Those whose children may live very far away from them;
- Those whose children are in prison; and
- Those whose children may themselves need care.
There are very many reasons why people may be childless by circumstance. There may also be other reasons why people feel they are ageing without children. We are happy to include anyone who self defines as ageing without children.
How many people are we talking about?
Some 20% of people over 50 currently have no children.
Some 1.2 million people over the age of 65 currently have no children in the UK; by 2030 it is estimated that 2 million people over 65 will have no children.
More data is included in our Facts & Figures.
Is AWwoC open to men as well?
AWwoC is open to both men and women and those who identify as transgender or non-binary. The issues of ageing without children affects everyone irrelevant of gender or sexuality.
Haven’t most people ageing without children made a choice not to have them?
This is a frequent, but incorrect assumption. What research there is on post-fertile women, suggests that approximately 10% of women choose not to have children, 10% were unable to do so for medical reasons and 80% are childless due to other circumstances. Unfortunately, the statistics for men and for those who are transgender or non-binary are not yet available. It is our view that it doesn’t matter why people arrive at later life without children; the issues people face will be the same whether they chose not to have children or wanted them and couldn’t have them.
Why does it matter if older people don’t have children?
Public services, in particular social care and the NHS generally, assume that there are adult children around to help fill the gaps in services. So, for example, that there is an adult child around to run someone to appointments, help with tasks like cleaning and shopping, remind people to take medication, help with exercises, change dressings etc. and to manage and mediate with carers. The system is not geared up for people without family to help them and, at the same time, reductions in public spending means that many services that were there to help fill this gap no longer exist. Consequently, people ageing without children can be left without support and help at a time when they need it the most.
People ageing without children and with dementia are particularly vulnerable if they have no one to speak up for them.
Why do you assume people’s children will look after them?
The fact is that 92% of carers are family members and all the evidence we have suggests that the vast majority of people with children do get a lot of support from them when they are older. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally children do offer support to their older parents if they are in a position to do so. This support can be anything from helping with small everyday tasks that enable older people able to live at home independently for longer, to managing carers to providing hands on personal care. This may require a few hours a day or several days a week. Some adult children are the full-time carers of their parents. Often one of the key things people’s children do is advocate on their behalf, arranging services, interceding with third parties, monitoring what is provided, identifying when things are not working properly and making complaints. AWwoC’s most recent survey identified that the key worry for most people ageing without children is the lack of someone to speak on their behalf.
Why do you think people’s children should look after them? Aren’t they allowed to have their own lives?
We don’t. We absolutely think that adult children should not have to fill the gaps in social care and health services or deal with services and institutions on behalf of their parents. We believe there should be a range of services available to people in later life to help them stay independent for as long as possible. We think adult children should be free to spend quality time with their parents rather than having to do tasks that could, or should, be done by others including social care and health professionals. If we make things better for people ageing without children, we will make things better for all older people.
How is AWwoC funded?
Since its founding, AWwoC has received small grants and support from other organisations in the ageing sector including the Beth Johnson Foundation, Age UK London, Transform Ageing, Prama Care and Independent Age. We are continuing to seek grants and funding, but the rest of our work is supported by public donations. We would be most grateful for any financial support you can offer. Please donate here.
How can I help?
I’d like to start a local AWwoC group how do I do this?
If you are interested in starting you own group, please email us email@example.com