Celebrating the role of older people

Issue date: 27 August 2009

Culture, Diversity and Ageing -38th annual conference of the British Society of Gerontology Culture, Diversity and Ageing
38th annual conference of the British Society of Gerontology
University of the West of England Frenchay Campus 2 to 4 September 2009

Older people make a massive contribution to our society in many ways, including as workers, family members and volunteers. This contribution often goes unrecognised in debates that focus on the costs of care, but without it our families, communities and workplaces would struggle to flourish.

The 38th annual conference of the British Society for Gerontology at the University of the West of England on Wednesday 2 to Thursday 4 September 2009 will explore and celebrate the roles of older people in contemporary society. A joint initiative organised by the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol and sponsored by Age Concern and Help the Aged, the conference presents an opportunity to investigate a range of important issues in order to promote better understanding of people's experiences of ageing and how older people can be supported to maximise the contribution they make. This approach is based on not treating older people as a homogenous group but instead taking a person-centred approach that acknowledges diverse aspirations, abilities and cultures.

Over 250 delegates from all corners of the globe will convene to hear 150 presentations on research and policy issues relating to older people. These include the delivery of long term care services, the funding of social care, cultures of ageing, diversity and discrimination and the use of technology by older people.

Simon Evans, Chair of the Conference Organising Team, commented “Older people are often problematised in debates that focus on health and care support-related issues rather than on their contributions, skills and participation in relation to wider aspects of community life. At the same time, we need to devise workable long term strategies to ensure that we are geared up to cope with the needs of the ageing population globally and to learn from different cultures. All this, set in the current global financial context, makes for some interesting policy challenges. The annual conference presents a perfect opportunity for people working in this arena to come together and work out how best to move forward. Research already drives much of the policy decision making and it is important that we ensure that we focus the research where it is needed most. It is also critical that we take the opportunities that meetings of this kind present to share best practice from around the world.”

Keynote speakers:

Professor Alan Walker from the University of Sheffield will present on Unequal Ageing: Causes and Solutions

Professor Gloria Gutman from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver will present on 'Culture, diversity and ageing: implications for housing and urban design'.

Professor Merril Silverstein will talk on 'Grandparenting East and West, the role of social and economic change'.

The conference will also feature the award of the annual Alan Walker Prize, which is made to an individual or organisation that, in the opinion of the judges, has made a significant and lasting contribution to British social gerontology.

This year's prize will be awarded to Tessa Harding MBE. Tessa was Head of Policy and subsequently Senior Policy Adviser for Age Equality and Human Rights at Help the Aged from 1996 to 2006. She previously worked at the National Institute for Social Work (1990 – 96), the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (1984 - 90) and for three local authorities (1972-84).

While at Help the Aged, she was a member of the Better Government for Older People steering group, an adviser to the Government's Beacon Councils programme and to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Older People's programme, on the advisory board of the ESRC Growing Older Programme and a member of the Kings Fund Inquiry into social care for older people in London. Tessa developed Help the Aged's Speaking Up for Our Age programme of support for Senior Citizens Forums and convened the Older People's Reference Group which advised on the development of the National Service Framework for Older People.

For more information see:http://www.bsg2009.org.uk

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