Blog: The Dick Turpin Generation

June 30, 2013

Listening to the Moral Maze this week I felt increasing frustration. How simplistic to reduce our society to a number of age-cohorts that are homogeneous and exist in isolation from each other with no mutual concern or shared support. What I struggle to understand is why the same small group of people have been given a platform to promote their particular beliefs?Why weren’t Grandparents Plus invited to talk about the contribution Grandparents are making to our society and their Grandchildren? Where was the debate about the complexity of any age cohort which includes people of all backgrounds? There was a lovely point in the debate when suddenly it moved from being about baby boomers to being about ‘middle class’ baby boomers. This was an argument about class as much as about age. At the same time as the Campaign to End Loneliness is attempting to address the epidemic of loneliness that is affecting so many old people we get sound bites about rich pensioners who have rigged our society to their own benefits and are sitting on large savings to the detriment of everyone else.As someone who began their career working with young people there is an argument that we still see investing in our young people as more important than older age groups, because the young have a future and older people don’t, even though life expectancy continues to rise. Let’s broaden this debate to think about families, sustainability in communities, collective solutions rather than a ’politics of envy’ debate where the government is supposedly forced by the power of selfish older people to discriminate against other people.Of course the most interesting thing about the debate is that it wasn’t people of different ages talking about what they wanted for Society, it was people who decided they had the right to talk for others. In 2003 the Welsh Assembly Government consulted on developing the national strategy for older people. One of the strongest messages that emerged from this consultation with older people was their concern for young people and the future. Rhetoric about politics of envy and people having their future stolen may make great (or is that sensationalist news) but it is a far cry from what is really going on for most people.These are difficult times for most of us, irrespective of our ages; let’s look at collaboration and understanding not division and blame. It can’t be accidental that so many of the projects that I am involved with around the world see intergenerational cooperation as a core part of sustainable change.Alan Hatton-Yeo MBEChief ExecutiveBeth Johnson Foundation

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