THE Mayor of Melksham, Cllr Jon Hubbard, has pledged to tackle ageism in the community.

Speaking on the International Day of Older Persons on October 1, Cllr Jon Hubbard joined local leaders across the UK in signing an open letter committing them to tackling ageism and talking more positively about later life.

The letter commits leaders across the country to challenging “deeply damaging” attitudes and language and says it's time to recognise the “many opportunities” of longer lives.

Cllr Jon Hubbard said: “In Melksham we are on our own journey towards creating an 'age friendly community' and will be holding a special meeting of the Melksham Area Board and Forum 55 Seniors at 2pm on Tuesday, October 22 in the Melksham Assembly Hall to discuss issues affecting older people.

"The event will feature presentations, including from the Centre for Ageing Better, together with round table discussions on topics such as: supported living; work and financial security; health and wellbeing; combatting social isolation; accessibility and transport; and end of life care. Please come to tell us how we can make our community even more friendly for older people to live here.”

With recent research suggesting a quarter of people over 50 have felt discriminated against whilst doing everyday tasks or accessing services, the letter commits local leaders to challenging ageism within their own communities and organisations.

The letter has been co-ordinated by the UK Network of Age-Friendly Communities, part of the World Health Organisation’s Global network of over 900 places committed to fostering healthy and active ageing.

Melksham joined the network in 2018 and was the first market town in the UK to do so.

As well as committing local leaders to take action within their communities, the letter asks the public to be part of the ‘Journey to Age Equality’ by joining the movement against ageism.

The letter reads: “If we are to make real progress towards age equality, we must all work to root out ageism in our own communities and organisations.

"We will challenge ageism wherever we see it, whether it’s in public or in private, and ensure that the voices of older people are at the heart of our local decision-making.”

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, which supports the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, said: “Many of us are living longer. While some of us can look forward with confidence to enjoying later life, others are being held back by outdated and damaging attitudes.

“Negative stereotypes about older age can have a pernicious effect on our self-perception, limit our ideas of what we can do as we get older and stop us making the most of these extra years.

“We are proud to have partnered with the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities on International Day of Older Persons to call for a change in how we all talk about ageing and people in later life.

“It is great to see so many influential leaders who are committed to making their communities more age-friendly, now collectively affirming their commitment talk more positively about later life. We hope everyone will join us to end ageism.”