The Downing Street Project / network

People in this age group have gone through many incarnations. They have been through the swinging sixties when the birth pill was first available, which changed the way we view sex and marriage. They have lived through several wars taking place around the globe as activists: protesting in public, Banning the Bomb and in the case of Greenham Common, helped to stop nuclear weapons proliferating.
This is the generation that won equality for women, raising the profile of injustice - all the while managing their families, and working lives.
I came to the idea of this Ministry from both my own experience and then researching what happened when Joan Bakewell took on her job - without payment - to advise the previous government on the needs of the elderly. She and I both believe that there is a priority to support this age group and attend to some of their needs until society steps up. Joan has now resigned this position and is actively campaigning for a Ministry for older people. It's worth noting that Northern Ireland and Wales already have a Cabinet member responsible.
At Number 10, neither the Ministry for Equality nor Children and Families actively cover this sector. It absolutely needs statuary powers to defend the rights of this group.
In the Mock Cabinet, the Ministry for the Third Age strives to support people 55+ with the following aims:
1 To re-include them in society. Generally older people are left out of ongoing development - often having more in common with the people they talk to on the internet world wide, than their local community or families.
2 To ensure the dignity and rights of the Third Age. This age group is commonly seen as 'on their way out' and therefore not in need of the full service from the NHS, local government, and education depts.
3 To raise the profile and re-brand the Third Age. To re-introduce the valuable and positive contribution that the third age can make to our society as people of wisdom and experience.
Ideas include:
adopt a granny/grandad for single parent families
helping older people onto the internet by solving the problem of forgetting passwords – for example by the use of fingerprints or ocular identification. This will help older peope to raise their own identity on the www while providing better security – a key issue for them. (Could this task be given to a group of TTAs to solve the problems for all groups with short term memory loss, including dyslexics?)

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Comment by Carole Railton on February 22, 2013 at 14:31

Working and living with different ages ought to be the norm and here is a good view of it both mine and Candid thinking.

We need to think differently about age – it is becoming less relevant – and instead of handing down, retiring or even competing for jobs, we need to think about sharing, cooperating, learning together and mutuality. This will help both younger and older people from both a social and economic point of view. How do we start to make this shift?

There is great concern about the impact of the "system" (e.g. educational league tables) on young people and the "winners versus losers" culture that it creates. Are we measuring too much? Are we measuring the right things for the right reasons (responsibility versus control)? Are these metrics playing an appropriate role in the development of young people?

There is a challenge to overcome in the disparity between urban and rural areas, and the opportunities available to young people. How do we protect and cherish the differences, while ensuring that young people have the opportunities and exposure they want and need?

Even the government minister for the over 60s today said that over 60s could apply now for student loads, and he encouraged them to do so, although they would be leaving a debt of around £25K if they needed the loan in the first place. 

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