Background« Back to About Us
The origins of Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton date back to 1928. Through the direct intervention of the social reformer Eleanor Rathbone the first committee in the country was formed specifically for the “care of the elderly”. The Committee a direct antecedent of Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton was set up by the Liverpool Personal Service Society. Using a special donation from the Rathbone family, the Old Folks Welfare Sub-Committee was established, with Mr Derbyshire as Chairman, Miss Eleanor Rathbone as Vice-Chairman and Miss Dorothy Keeling as Secretary. In the same year, the first social clubs for pensioners were inaugurated. Pensioners attended these centres every month for afternoon tea and entertainments and by 1938, there were twelve clubs in operation. The basis of this work was voluntary. Outings and garden parties were arranged as were holidays.
In the 1930’s the Old Folks Welfare Sub-Committee expanded its work to visiting institutions for old people at Belmont Road and Kirkdale, this was long before the Friends of the Hospital movement.
In her book, “The Crowded Stairs”, Dorothy Keeling writes about this early work. ”Liverpool was, undoubtedly, thanks largely to Miss Rathbone’s initiative and inspiration, a pioneer in the work for the elderly.” When the National Old People’s Welfare Committee, (later to become Age Concern England), was set up in 1940, Miss Rathbone was its first Chair and Dorothy Keeling its Secretary.
By 1958 there were 65 clubs for the elderly, all affiliated to the Liverpool Council of Clubs. The Old Folks Welfare Sub-Committee and the Liverpool Council of Clubs came together, in 1958, to form a separate charity, the Liverpool Old Peoples Welfare Council, under the auspices of the Liverpool Council for Social Service. This charity took on the name of Age Concern during 1972.
Because of its rapid growth, both in workload and financial responsibilities, Age Concern Liverpool was incorporated as a private company, limited by guarantee and re-registered as a charity in 1986.
Unfortunately some of the problems of 1928 are still present today. Dorothy Keeling writes, “We learnt a great deal from our experimental work for old people…..We realised the great monotony of the lives of the elderly, especially those living alone, and the total absence of any colourful occupation. Not only, too, were many of them desperately lonely, but the feeling that they were no longer wanted was very common, as was the constant dread of having to be moved to the ‘House’, from which it was very unlikely that there would be any return”.
The problem of loneliness, being unwanted, lack of motivation and the fear, not so much of being sent to the workhouse, but of going into a care home, remains today.
Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton has always focused on the needs and aspirations of older people. Both before and after the inception of the welfare state and free National Health care, we have been proud to deliver many important advances in the care and support of a wide range of local older people.
Reproduced below are a few key events which showcase the difference which Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton has made to the City and the region.
In 1961, Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton opened a comprehensive information and advice service. The service still exits to this day, though lack of funding has limited the number of people we can help in recent years. Up until 5 years ago the information and advice service was dealing with thousands of enquiries each year and brought in millions of pounds of benefit entitlements to help local older people.
In 1963, Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton opened the Woolton Centre, the first purpose built social centre for older people in Liverpool. 51 years later, the Woolton Centre has gone, but the Poppy Centre in Clubmoor continues the tradition of bringing older people together to socialise, learn, have fun and enjoy a meal. The venue may be more modern, the activities bang up to date, but the essence of people making friends and breaking bread together has never changed.
In 1969, The Extra-Mural Department of Liverpool University in co-operation with ‘The Old People’s Welfare Council’ as Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton were then known; mounted a course for 6 weeks entitled “Old People in Society” and over 60 students enrolled. This tradition of working with our great academic institutions continues to this day and Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton have recently worked with John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University.
In 1972, we became an Age Concern, a name Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton are proud to still bear to this day, replacing the old name, the Older People’s Welfare Council.
In 1973 the ’Continuing Care’ project began at Broadgreen and Sefton Hospitals, striving to improve hospital aftercare services that sometimes did not arrive on time and often not at all.
In 1987, Age Concern Liverpool launched one of the first social enterprises, trading in commercial products where there had been a market failure to adapt to the needs of older people. A new company, Age Concern Liverpool (Services) Ltd, was formed to separate the trading activities from the Charity.
In 1990, A 12 bedded nursing home, “The Hamlets”, was opened in Aigburth for older people with a functional mental health diagnosis who were decanted from the large mental health institutions. This was very unusual for a charity at this time and demonstrated that Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton had not lost the pioneering spirit to lead the way in social and health care.
In 1997 Liverpool Sheltered Housing Project was launched. Instead of having to complete 17 different forms to apply to City Council and Housing Associations for sheltered housing, Age Concern Liverpool acted as a single clearing-house.
In 1999 Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton opened the first Active Age Centre in the UK for older people. A flagship facility offering a wide range of social, learning and leisure opportunities. Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton also launched the Liverpool Senior Citizens Forum as an independent campaigning body composed solely of older people.
In 2003, Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton managed an over 50’s Art Festival enabling elders from the Arab and Yemeni, West African, Pakistan, Chinese and Hindu communities to share and showcase their diverse culture with the wider Merseyside community.
In 2008, it was our 80th birthday and time for expanding our horizons. Age Concern Liverpool and Age Concern Southport merged, creating a larger charity, covering Liverpool and Sefton and reflecting the growing importance of the City region.
In 2011 Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton elected not to join AgeUK but to remain a local independent Charity providing services to local people.
In 2012 Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton launched a new Home Care service providing local people with personal care, cleaning, shopping and welfare monitoring.
In 2017 Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton is preparing to start up a dementia day respite service to provide Carers with the opportunity to continue to work, or just have some “me time” and people living with dementia the opportunity to have an enjoyable day in a supportive, adapted environment with high quality care at hand.
Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton has achieved a lot in our 90 years and we would like to thank the volunteers, staff, Trustees, supporters, partners and the people of Merseyside who have helped us to do so much for local older people.