Sunday, May 01, 2011

When is Age Concern not Age UK? When it is Advant-Age.

When Age Concern and Help the Aged decided to get together, under the black cloud of the Heyday disaster, the resulting organization became Age UK, or at least I thought it did.

As you can see from the images, taken from a recent Age UK ad, it is not a simple as that. Age UK is a ‘force combining’ as well as something that works with third party companies – well really it means it is leveraging its brand to improve the chances of third parties selling.

Are you still with me?

Well just to add a pinch of ultra-confusion to the pot, a large number of the local Age Concerns didn’t like this idea and have decided to set-up their own business call Advant-Age.

All of this is going on at a time when charities are under the cosh as local authorities slash their funding. Cynics would say (including me) that LAs are doing this rather than tightening up their own notoriously inefficient and incompetent organisations – but that is another story.

Coming back to the Age Concern saga - you can read all about the machinations in this article from Third Sector.

When Age UK was formed the 320 local Age Concerns were given until the end of last month to decide whether or not to sign brand partnership agreements. Just over half have done so.

The creation of Advant-Age appears to undermine one of the main reasons for the merger: that the needs of older people were not best served by competing charities. If anything, there are now more organisations claiming to be the voice pitching for older people.

It must be hell out there as the funding pressure begins – don’t forget we have another 3-5 years of these cuts. Probably more.

The final result of all of this organisational strife is that all of the various groupings of age charities are selling like hell for the older consumer's business. How is this going to play when Government should be looking to deal with impartial voices, rather than those who are trying to outbid each other to sell stair lifts?

I totally understand why all of this is happening and feel very sorry for all concerned. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that just at a time when older people need a strong, clear, un-muddled voice to be fighting their corner they have exactly the opposite.

I never thought I would say it but the way things are going I can see that Saga ending up being the organisation that claims the thought leadership position for older people. The companies new PR push is very impressive.

The care providers are amateurish in their approach and as I have shown, the charities are at each other’s throats. What a bu**ers muddle. Dick Stroud

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