PERSONAL STORIES

I decided not to bring any children into the world when I was a teenager. I did not want

to feel guilty for anybody else's unhappiness. Now that I’m ageing I would like to have local support to create a little group of friends who want to share a roof, carers and

so on, and the most important of all the final years of our life together. (F)

I have two children, both with mental health problems and are estranged from us.

Never see or hear from them. I have grandchildren, that all live miles away and have busy families of their own. My husband is 86, I'm a worn out full time carer for him with no help whatsoever. So far, I can manage our affairs, but what happens when I can't??

Who is there to help and look after us?? (F)

I have never wanted children and, many years ago, joined a group called ‘No Kidding’

to challenge the stigma of childlessness. I looked after the wellbeing of my father in his last years and now I’m wondering who will do the same for me? It is vital that the government puts the growing millions of awocs on its agenda, and bears in mind that 90% of LGBT people are estimated to be ageing without children. It’s all part of the picture – isolation, loneliness and vulnerability leading to stress on the NHS and social services.

Local AWOC peer-support groups can be part of the solution. (Lesbian)

I decided to accept S (as my partner) when she could not have any more children; I was young and getting ill and needing others was a long way off. But I got my first stroke when I was 50 and the second in 2014 it came early and I still cannot drive but it was the hospital stay that was the wake up call as I had to watch as the others had family coming to them and sorting things out and taking them home. I went home alone and had to see to things like shopping etc there was no recuperation. I am with Safe Hands and I seem to get the childless couples but they do have some relatives through sisters or brothers. One lady treats me like I am family and it feels good. (M)

I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren living very far away in Canada. If my partner died,

I would probably move back to Canada eventually. AWOC is important because I have learned about different issues facing older people who are without children nearby.

I am interested in ageing childless older men because I am one but also because my research has shown the need to account for this significant population. I always expected to be a Dad and I have felt the loss at different times in response to various situations since my 30s. I am now nearly 60. (M)

I and my partner are childless not by choice. I have no immediate family beyond my parents and that which he has are overseas and not in contact with us. As my own parents age and we deal with the difficulties associated with that, I am left increasingly worried about what will happen to us as we age, the more so when one of us passes away and the other is left on their own. The pressure that this puts on us now, in our

mid forties, is only going to increase. (F)

I joined AWOC York as I never married and don’t have children, both parents have passed away, I am an only child. Only elderly cousins left. I see one cousin who is 84 every fortnight. I have lived in the same house all my life, only one neighbour left who I know is 95 this year. I am 56 in June. (F)

I am of the female generation that was educated through the 60s and 70s with a very strong push to be ambitious, career minded and independent. That I have been, and have lived a full and varied 'work-orientated' life involving much travel and working with different cultures and communities. Not by choice, but more – just how it happened, my life did not result in marriage or child rearing. I am now in my early sixties but without a partner, children, parents, siblings or indeed close relatives of any kind. Friends are scattered and mostly involved with their own families. I therefore found the establishment of AWOC recognised many of the worrying questions and anxieties facing those of us from all walks of life entering older age in a society which is still very family focussed and that has become so complex and fraught, that every elderly person, let alone those with dementia problems, will require a trustworthy champion to speak up for them and ensure their wishes and rights are respected. With the current disintegration and chaos reigning in social services, NHS and elderly care, it is frightening to think who this will be. (F)

Reflections on having no regrets on being child free:

1. Brought up during WW2 with limited but sufficient social contact with older cousins, aunts and uncles who were childless without anxiety – for reasons from educational and professional lost opportunities due to poverty to uneven privilege.

2. Overhearing groundless patronising prejudice directed against the above groups based on smug self-righteousness from family who happened to have had children [unplanned or not I might add].

3. As a child having little exposure to media extolling the nuclear family as an ideal.

4. Witnessing families helping each other during the war and then the fragmentation of this with 1950s emancipation. (M)

I'm 48 and transgender, I have no children and live in private rented accommodation.

I fear that when I retire I will be homeless because the landlord does not accept tenants who are not working. I'm also worried that as I grow older I may need care in some form, but have no family to provide it or help towards it. I also worry that as I get older I will become even more lonely and isolated which will lead to depression. (F)

I joined AWOC because I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself alone. I got divorced 25 years ago and never met anyone else. My son decided to emigrate to Canada six years ago after graduating and I retired to York from Hastings. I have moved around all my life so have not really put any roots down. My relatives are all older than me.

AWOC has been so helpful in guiding me.

Families nowadays are scattered, not just over the country, but over the world. Sadly my daughter died some years ago and, like many, I have no family in this area of the country who could step in and offer support when I need it. I live in a small village and now that

I am 77 I have found that, on recent occasions, when I have needed some help and support, the majority of my friends, of similar age, are needing support themselves.

It has made me wonder just what the future may hold for me. More money must be made available for social care to meet the needs of the elderly who have no family to call on when help is required. Failure to provide support in the community will result in more elderly being in hospital or care homes, which will cost more in the long run. (F)

I joined AWOC because I have no children; I was past child bearing age when I married.

I have no close family in the UK, so need to find a way of ageing that is not dependent on family or peer age friends. My father died when I was a child, but my mother lived on and became ill. She looked to me to care for her while I was teaching, which was a strain.

I was inclined to take time out from teaching to look after her but was advised not to do that because it would have affected my pensionable service, and any career prospects. (F)

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