Push Back Ageism

Push Back Ageism is a multi-layered, nation-wide initiative to change the narrative and challenge preconceptions around age and older adults and what it means to grow older. 

The u3a movement believes that everyone has a positive contribution to make to the community around them and age should not be a factor in this. We want to see a world where people are seen for who they are not based on preconceptions to do with their age. We want a society which accepts that every age brings with it many new and exciting opportunities.

By providing people opportunities to come together, learn, volunteer and stay active, the u3a movement is integral to promoting health and wellbeing as we age. We believe that emphasising a positive view of ageing and working in a collaborative way with others holding the same values will show that there Is a different way of looking at ageing and older people.

Three older people linking arms smiling and walking away from a poster of 3 male football players

Credit: Philippe Leone

Challenging Ageism

In the UK, ageism is the most prevalent form of discrimination, with one in three people experiencing age-based prejudice or discrimination.

A survey of u3a members found that nearly 40% had heard ageist language used about their age group. A fifth (20%) of surveyed u3a members in their sixties said they had been described as ‘elderly’ with nearly two fifths (37%) of them finding the term offensive.

Three older people walking together interlinking arms, with billboard of footballers behind them

Credit: Centre for Ageing Better

Anti-ageism Toolkit

u3a and the Centre for Ageing Better have joined forces to produce advice to help members challenge ageism and promote positive ageing.

The toolkit, which includes information and resources on how to challenge ageism, including a ‘Top Tips’ guide, is available as a PDF download:

Ageism Toolkit (1.14 MB)

At the end of 2021, we encouraged members to read the toolkit, put some of the actions into practice and share their experiences. Find out more Anti-Ageism Toolkit Findings.

Redesigning the Everyday

We believe that poor design is making our lives more difficult, and we want to do something about it.

Together with DAI we want to put older adult voices at the heart of design, re-educate business as to what we really need and make everyday objects more usable, more useful and more desirable for all ages.

As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Design Age Institute, more than 2,000 members of u3a participated in a survey about the most frustrating everyday objects as we age.

The compelling findings have been compiled in a report, and show the biggest stress factors identified in homes were packaging-related, with over 60% of all respondents choosing packaging as their main frustration.

Struggling to open a carton of orange juice or peel back plastic wrapping on food can cause enormous frustration and gradually erode older adults' confidence in carrying out everyday tasks.

Read the report below.

Design Age Institute Report (6.26 MB)

As a result of this work, the Design Age Institute created a petition to Government to enforce minimum inclusive standards for product packaging, similar to those used for building regulations.

Decades of campaigning has failed to elicit significant change in the design and manufacture of consumer packaging, and without Government leadership and the creation of a mandatory minimum standard being introduced, this is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Get in touch

If you have any comments or suggestions about Push Back Ageism, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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