Make it Ageless campaign launched today: Young Europeans grow up fast campaigning for older people's rights

24 April 2012

Young Age Ambassadors become decades older in just one week  

A new campaign launched today by HelpAge International is raising awareness amongst young people of what it means to be older, by challenging them to be Age Ambassadors by living with an older person for one week and to capture in written diaries, blogs, photos and video their experience of growing old overnight.

The Make it Ageless campaign will raise awareness among young people in Europe of the rights and welfare of older people including those living in poorer countries, such as Kenya. 

The campaign will encourage young Europeans to petition the EU to make its overseas aid age-friendly. To promote the campaign, HelpAge International is taking display space outside the European Parliament at the EU open day on 12 May in Brussels.

"Older people in developing countries are a vital part of society. They are often primary care givers and have an incredibly important role to play in the development of these countries," says Richard Blewitt, CEO of HelpAge International.

"We want young people in Europe to show they care about the needs of older people living thousands of miles away by supporting our campaign. We hope Make it Ageless will see the EU be more responsive to the needs of older people in developing countries."

To draw attention to the reality of growing old in a developing world country, the campaign compares and contrasts the stories of the young Age Ambassadors with that of Cornel Odido, a 24-year-old young man from Western Kenya and his experience of living with his 68-year-old grandmother, Mama Teresa.

The campaign, which is running in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain, and the Netherlands, also surveyed European youth on their attitudes towards ageing. When asked if the EU should do more for older people in the developing world, 58% said there was too little focus on older people in poor countries. The findings show young people are aware of the essential social contribution older people in these countries make to their communities, and see them as the "most overlooked" of all those living in poverty overseas.


Press Contact:

Bruce Sparrow, Media Officer
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 148 7606 (direct line), +44 (0) 7879 663271 (mobile)

Notes to Editors:
1.     Survey - conducted (Dec 2011 - Jan 2012) for HelpAge International by nfpSynergy - of over 700 Europeans aged 18-30: at least 100 from each of seven EU countries (Ireland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Slovenia, UK). Of those surveyed:

  • Only 30% of young Europeans (aged 18-30) expect their quality of life to be better in old age
  • 37% expect their quality of life to be worse in old age
  • 45% say the EU has a responsibility to provide adequate overseas aid
  • 58% say there is too little focus on older people in poor countries
  • 71% are concerned about the higher cost of living and reduced pensions for older people in their home country
  • 47%) express concern that money will not be available to support older people in poorer countries.

2.     Make it Ageless - The challenges facing older people today are those that will face younger people as they get older - unless action is taken now. Make it Ageless is part of a wider international movement called Age Demands Action (ADA); a global grassroots campaign led by older people who are calling for their human rights. Across Europe, younger and older people are standing together for a fairer future.  Make it Ageless unites young and older people by sharing their passion for a better, fairer world both today, and in the future. More information at:

3.     Social Media -  @helpage #makeitageless or #ageless

4.     HelpAge International - is a global network of organisations helping older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. It believes a critical component is engagement of older people themselves in efforts to claim their rights to healthcare, social services and economic and physical security. It has shown that older people are their own best advocates and make valuable contributions to society as caregivers, advisors, mentors, mediators and breadwinners. More information at: