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1st May 2012, 11:29am
Equality campaigner's talk on growing old gracefully
Dame Philippa Russell DBE The valuable contribution older people make to society will be highlighted in a free public talk by a decorated equality campaigner.

Dame Philippa Russell DBE, chair of the Standing Commission on Carers, will describe to an audience at the University of Lincoln how the contribution of older people as active citizens is often overlooked in modern Britain.

The talk, 'Growing old gracefully? Valuing the contribution of older people in a rapidly ageing and changing society', is part of the University's Lincoln Academy series of free public events. It takes place on Thursday 17th May, starting at 6pm in the EMMTEC building on the main Brayford Pool campus.

The event is supported by Excellent Ageing Lincolnshire, a  programme that is being delivered in partnership with over 50 organisations from across the county, and has grown out of a shared commitment to radically reshape Lincolnshire's approach to delivering services for older people.

Dame Philippa will highlight how older generations play important roles in a society apparently infatuated with 'youth culture', which has in recent years frequently perceived its older members as both a burden and an expense. She will also consider the varying expectations of and behaviour towards older citizens in different nations and cultures.

Dame Philippa said: "As a society, we are going through a period of unprecedented demographic change. All too often, our older people are presented as a burden on the young or a drain on the public purse.
"I have seen first-hand the incredible contribution our older generations make to society, especially in caring for loved-ones and in supporting a wide range of community and voluntary activities. Sadly, these efforts go largely unseen and unrecognised.
"Young and old have a reciprocal responsibility to respect and protect each other. It would be foolish to write off the abilities and experience of older people because of misplaced prejudices and it would be wise to develop and cherish a society which values diversity in all its citizens, whatever their ages, abilities or social and cultural backgrounds."

Dame Philippa was a director on the Council for Disabled Children for 27 years, where she campaigned for improvements in services for disabled children and young people. She then became a disability policy adviser to the National Children's Bureau in 2003 and remains in that position today. She was a Commissioner with the Disability Rights Commission throughout its life, until it was merged with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

In 1990, she was awarded the USA's Rose Kennedy Centenary Award for women who have made the greatest contribution to improving the lives of people with learning disabilities. In 2005, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Association of Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) and has been recognised through many other honours.

She has received a host of honorary doctorates from UK universities, including the University of Lincoln in 2011, and is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics.

In 2009, she was made a dame having previously been awarded both an OBE and a CBE in 1999 and 2002 respectively.

She currently sits as chair on the Standing Commission on Carers, a role she has fulfilled since 2007.

Admission to Dame Philippa Russell's Lincoln Academy talk is free but guests should pre-register attendance. To book a place, phone the University of Lincoln's Events Team on 01522 837100, email or visit

For more information on Excellent Ageing Lincolnshire, visit:

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