Ageing Without Children


Real People Theatre



(ageing without children or children nearby)

No we’re not kidding – we’re giving a voice to the millions of older people who are ageing without the support of children through choice, circumstance, infertility, bereavement, estrangement or distance. Ageing at home alone. Not knowing who to call when in sudden need of a helping hand. For its 19th consecutive show for York International Women’s Festival, the Real People Theatre will be presenting a collage of stories on this vitally important theme through drama, poetry, music, song and images. There will be audience interaction and discussion as usual.

Friday 9 March 7.30-9.30 pm & Saturday 10 March 2-4 pm

York St John University, Theatre 4

Tickets on the door: £6 (£5 concession)

AWOC York runs a monthly group with speakers to explore what can be done to help older people to cope with and plan for a future on their own. An overview of the issues can be found on the national website: Enquiries for the show and for our monthly ageing-without-children meetings to Sue Lister, AWOC York Coordinator: 01904 488870.






Dear AWOC members and supporters,

Looking back at 2017, one of the most remarkable thing for us is that AWOC is still here. We started the year with high hopes of receiving a grant from the Big Lottery Accelerating Ideas programme, a process we had begun back in the summer of 2016.

However, much to our disappointment, we fell at the last hurdle with our proposal not being recommended to panel for funding. Having ploughed all of our time and meagre resources into the bid, the organisation was left in an extremely precarious position and for a time we thought we would have to close.

However, thanks to emergency grants from Independent Age and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation we were able to keep the organisation afloat and look at sustainability options.

PRAMA Care then came to our rescue with a grant to develop AWOC awareness in Poole Bournemouth and East Dorset. We are also looking at other funding sources and options. More on that in the New Year.


However, the people most responsible for keeping AWOC going are the people ageing without children themselves. When we feared we were going to close, it was knowing how much people ageing without children needed a voice and an organisation that understood and represented their particular issues that strengthened our resolve to carry on. We received many kind messages of support and donations from members which really gave us the heart to continue.

Even though it has been a difficult year, we have continued, as far as possible, to continue to campaign for and raise the profile of ageing without children.

Here are some highlights from a year which started as an annus horribilis and turned into something of an annus mirabilis:

  • We had an article in The Guardian at the beginning of the year:

  • We were interviewed by BBC Radio York;
  • Our Facebook group grew to over 1300 members and one of our key priorities for 2018 is to establish a new secure online forum for AWOC;
  • We spoke at two conferences on issues around planning for care needs;
  • We were quoted at length in Independent Age’s Doing Care Differently report
  • Sue Lister, who runs the AWOC group in York, organised a session on ageing without children as part of the York over 50s festival with Rachel Maskell MP, the Lord Mayor of York, local councillors, Dr Robin Hadley and AWOC all speaking.Sue, who was awarded a MBE in 2017, is directing a cast collaboration on ageing without children which will be the Real People Theatre’s 19th consecutive production for York International Women’s Festival in March – it’s called NO KIDDING?” ;
  • The AWOC group in Leeds organised two seminars, one on legal issues with Blacks Solicitors and one on housing options with Care & Repair, Methodist Homes, and Leeds City Council Home share scheme;
  • In Brighton, there were talks on Financial Planning from McClure solicitors, Planning Health and Welfare LPAs from Compassion in Dying as well as social get-togethers;
  • There were also AWOC get togethers in Norwich, Oxford and Ireland.

Our plans for 2018 include:

  • A national conference
  • The production of a toolkit on how to create ageing without children awareness in organisations and communities;
  • Resources for people wanting to set up AWOC groups;
  • Development of a membership model; and
  • A new online secure platform for AWOC members.

We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful 2018. We look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year






Sue Lister from AWOC York plans play on theme of ageing without children


Ageing without the support of nearby children

No, we’re not kidding. As recent news items and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness remind us, Christmas can be a terrible time to find yourself at home alone while the rest of the country celebrates with family and friends.

And why should lonely people celebrate the New Year which faces them with more of the same – days when you speak to no one or only at a please and thank you level. For years you’ve been engaged with a network of other people at work and play but as time goes on the contacts dwindle until you find yourself at home alone. For many a bit of peace and quiet is a welcome change. For many depression creeps in – it’s hard to keep positive when there isn’t much to look forward to apart from increasing infirmity and….isolation.

So what can we do about it? The Government’s attempt to deflect the responsibility to children and families fails miserably for those without either, never mind for those with children with busy lives elsewhere and families of their own which still leave you returning to an empty house at the end of the day.

What we need is more empathy – to walk a mile in these shoes.

Sue Lister and Ann Murray have set up AWOC York (ageing without children) which meets at the Cross Keys on Goodramgate on the second Wednesday of each month, alternating between afternoon and evening meetings. Since January 2016 they have been gathering to share stories, listen to speakers and discuss issues, with time to socialise over lunch or dinner. There are now over 100 members on the circulation list and between 12 – 20 people meet each month.

Sue is also the Artistic Director of the Real People Theatre. So, linking both of these groups, she will be working on the theme of ageing without children for her 19th show for York International Women’s Festival in 2018. Once again the venue will be at York St John University and the dates are Friday 9th (evening) and Saturday 10th March (matinee).

Auditions are on Saturday 6th January, 1 pm, at the Tesco Community Room, inside Tesco’s supermarket on the Tadcaster Road at Askham Bar. Sue Lister will be directing the show and welcomes people’s stories and experiences of ageing without the support of nearby children – whether you want to be part of the show or simply contribute your ideas, stories, poetry, songs, or thoughts for the day you can contact Sue on 01904 488870. Details of all Real People Theatre’s previous shows can be found at





We have some great news to share today! We are going to be working with PRAMA Care who are funding a 6 month project to create AWOC Aware Communities in East Dorset. PRAMA Care is an organisation providing services to older people and people with disabilities and they have been very supportive of AWOC since it began. They will be working closely with us alongside other key stakeholders with the aim of producing a model which will deliver the following outcomes:
1. People ageing without children feel a sense of connection with each other and benefit from peer support
2. Local organisations in the statutory, private and third sectors concerned with older people are aware of the issues of ageing without children and involve people ageing without children in planning and delivering local service change.
3. The wider community has a greater understanding of people ageing without children

The project will produce a number of materials/outputs including;

  • Resource pack for people wanting to set up groups for individuals ageing without children
  • Workshop for organisations on ageing without children
  • Final project report and resource pack for local areas wanting to become AWOC aware

The aim is for the learning to be shared at a national conference in May next year




Kirsty Woodard founder of AWOC will be discussing ageing without children in York on 6th October from 3pm along with Rachael Maskell MP, the Lord Mayor of York and Dr Robin Hadley as part of the York Over 50’s festival

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AWOC relies on donations from the public to carry out its work. Please support us  SUPPORT AWOC HERE

Ageing without children – the issue

Public policy and social attitudes towards ageing are based on a set of deeply rooted assumptions about older people’s ability to access care, support, advice and companionship from their adult children. Yet a significant minority of older people – already 1 million of those over 65, rising to 2 million by 2030 – are experiencing later life without these relationships.  This trend has the potential to impact substantially on our ageing society – both in terms of the quality of later life enjoyed by such older people, and in terms of the fiscal and social implications of supporting and caring for them. But the trends and issues are not yet well understood; and, as a  consequence, older people without children are not well served by networks and services – and, indeed, third sector organisations – that address their circumstances.

Ageing Without Children (AWOC) – the organisation

Ageing Without Children (AWOC) exists to plug these gaps. Its vision is “Ageing well together without children” and its mission is “campaigning, information and support for people ageing without children”.

Its aims are threefold:

  • Illuminate – to generate greater awareness and understanding of this segment of the older population and of the implications of ageing without children for public services and society more broadly.
  • Connect – to build networks, connecting and enabling locality-based and online communities of older people without children.
  • Innovate – through working in partnership and stimulating action by other entities, to facilitate the development and testing of new services and initiatives that meet the needs of older people without children – and, more broadly, of our ageing society.

AWOC’s intention is for these aims to be mutually reinforcing, thereby creating a virtuous circle:

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

It is with great sadness, that we have to tell you that we have failed to secure any funding to take AWOC as an organisation forward. We’ve spent over a year exploring many different promising avenues, and have invested thousands of hours of our time in doing so, but unfortunately we’ve come away with empty pockets!

Currently, the issue of ageing without children is mostly ignored by mainstream ageing thinking and practice. However, this is not an attitude that those us who are dealing with this issue personally have the luxury of taking.  Each of knows that we have to pay attention and take action, both individually and at a collective level.  This is human rights issue that the Western world is being stubborn in waking up to. It will; we will make sure of that.

AWOC has lots of creative and practical ideas about how we can proceed despite not receiving conventional funding, because there’s no way that the ONLY organisation in the world looking into and campaigning on behalf of adults ageing without children is going to give up!

Although we have lots of plans about how we can sustain ourselves as an organisation long term, these are going to take a couple of years to really get going so, for now, we need to introduce one of them straight away, and that’s a very basic form of membership payment.  In order to make it affordable for most people, we’re asking for a minimum payment of £5 per month.

Your membership fees and other donations will enable us over the next 12 months and longer term to:

  • Develop workshops and training that we can charge for;
  • Work with our members to flesh out the membership model;
  • Continue to build fruitful partnerships with other organisations; and
  • Co-create commercial initiatives with private sector organisations.

Our costs as an organisation are extremely modest, only £5,000 per month, as almost everything the Board and others currently do for AWOC is done on an unpaid voluntary basis. However, without that minimum amount in the bank each month, it’s going to be very difficult indeed for AWOC to grow to match the pace that the issue and you, our members, expect. In fact, we’ll struggle to limp along and will have to cut back on many of things we already do.

Five ways can you help right now

  1. Set up a standing order for at least £5 per month or £60 per year: Ageing Without Children – 23063062 – 20-21-80
  2. Set up a reoccurring monthly PayPal payment of at least £5 per month or £60 per year DONATE HERE
  3. Make a one off donation via AWOC’s ‘Go Fund Me’ page ly/awoc-gofundme
  4. Make a one off donation either via PayPal or bank transfer
  5. Make a one off donation by cheque to ‘Ageing Without Children’ and post to Ageing without Children, NDTi, 1st Floor, 30-32 Westgate Buildings, Bath BA1 1EF

We estimate that if each of our supporters on Facebook, Twitter and out there in the community  donated £5 per month we’d be able to get back to the business of growing AWOC at both a local and national level and be the voice that speaks up for and supports those 25% of adults ageing without children.

I know that funds are tight for many of us (us too!), but can you really afford NOT to support AWOC?!

Thank you in advance for making sure that our voice remains heard.

Best wishes,

Kirsty Woodard (Founder) and the Board of AWOC