The Age Concern movement has its roots in the second world war when particular problems affecting older people came to light, and the National Council for Social Services decided to form a committee specifically to “study the needs of older people and to encourage and promote measures for their well-being”.
In Scotland, the response was the setting up of the Scottish Old People’s Welfare Committee in 1943, with the aim of promoting companionship and care: “a friend for every old person in Scotland”. The Committee planned to achieve this aim by setting up local committees which would run local services primarily visiting people in their own homes.
By 1957, Scotland had 100 Old People’s Welfare Committees. These local groups provided services including visiting, clubs and social gatherings, lunch clubs, outings and holidays. Good neighbour schemes were formed, counselling services set up, along with practical services. Nationally at this time the organisation initiated the training of volunteers and made grants available to get these services underway.
The Scottish Old People’s Welfare Committee continued to flourish in this way for many years as a branch of the English organisation. Then in April 1971, it became the Scottish Old People’s Welfare Council, an autonomous body with the same rights as the national organisation. Three years later, in 1974, the new name Age Concern Scotland was adopted to reflect more accurately the nature and role of the organisation. The organisation’s primary aim was to improve the quality of life for older people in Scotland.
From 1 April 1995 Age Concern Scotland became a company limited by guarantee. Its governance structure includes an Assembly of 50, elected from the membership, who in turn elect 10 Company Directors, plus the Chairman and Vice-Chairman. This forms the Board of Management, responsible for the effective management of the company. The members of the Assembly have the responsibility of discussing and determining policy issues relating to older people and guiding the work of Age Concern Scotland.
At present Age Concern Scotland has approximately 500 organisations, groups, and individuals in membership. These include local older people’s groups, Age Concern and Old People’s Welfare groups, as well as national voluntary and professional groups. Age Concern Scotland is independently constituted.