New collection of images highlights diverse experiences of ageing across England 

The Centre for Ageing Better is partnering with Independent Age to share new photos that exhibit the diversity of people aged 50 and over in England as part of its Age-positive Image Library. 

The collection, which can be found on Ageing Better’s website, aims to improve depictions of older people with different life experiences, highlighting people living across diverse communities and from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. More than 500 new photos are included alongside the stories of those depicted to amplify participants’ voices and enhance the visibility of the underrepresented groups involved. 

Diversifying ageing: Fresh perspectives illustrates the experiences of people who are often underrepresented – those who live on low incomes, identify as LGBTQ+ or are aged 70 and above. And it showcases later life across the country, from Brighton to Manchester and beyond. 

The images are free to use across presentations, websites and media in the hope they will be widely used to provide a more realistic and empowering view of later life. 

Emma Twyning, Director of Communications and Influencing at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “The new collection marks an important step forward for our Age-positive Image Library. Generally, older age groups are underrepresented in the media, marketing and advertising campaigns. And where we do see images of older people, all too often they are characterised by the extremes of wealth and aspiration or decline and dependency, with little in between.  

“It is imperative that the diversity of ageing and different experiences of later life are accurately represented in our everyday lives, otherwise a huge part of the population remain invisible.” 

John Palmer, Director of Policy and Communications at Independent Age, said: “We are delighted to have collaborated on this new collection to address and challenge the stereotypes of what it is to be an older person in the UK today.  

“Older people we support frequently tell us that the images of older people in the media do not represent the reality of their lives. We know the over-65s are an incredibly diverse group with various life experiences. This new collection will shine a light on that diversity to celebrate it and show the difficulties older people face, especially those facing financial hardship.” 

The themes for the latest collection were suggested by image library users from an Ageing Better survey. Future collections later this year are also planned to take inspiration from what library users and Ageing Better supporters want to see, putting a spotlight on aspects of later life that are currently underrepresented. 

The collection follows the age-positive photography competition launched late last year by Ageing Better with content-licensing platform Alamy,  which seeks to challenge stereotypical depictions of older people. The competition runs until the end of March.  

The latest collection within the image library uses the skills and knowledge of both Ageing Better and Independent Age, an older people’s charity working to ensure that we can all live well with dignity, choice and purpose as we get older. 

Ageing Better and Independent Age are working closely with those participating in the new collection to create photos that are as accurate and authentic as possible. 

The Centre for Ageing Better is a National Lottery Community Fund funded-charity dedicated to make ageing better a reality for everyone. The Age-positive Image Library, which contains over 2,000 images that have been viewed more than 25 million times, forms part of Ageing Better’s work to challenge negative and stereotypical ideas about older age. 

Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Talking About My Generation, a news platform started by people aged 50 and over in Greater Manchester, were also involved with the project. 

Jan Kitching, Interim Chair at Greater Manchester Older People’s Equality Panel, said: “It’s fantastic to see these new images of ordinary Greater Manchester residents ageing positively in their own homes and communities. There’s no longer any excuse for photos of wrinkly hands, I challenge you to use the library and show older people as we really are.” 

David McLenachan, Bury photographer and reporter for Talking About My Generation, said: “Media images should be a true reflection of society and not play into ageing stereotypes. In my role as a photographer and reporter for MyGen I am always keen to show people in real situations that represent their reality – so it was interesting to be on the other side of the lens for this project.” 

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