Thames Reach
Friday 17 November 2017
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Old before their time

Britain is witnessing the emergence of a group of  extremely vulnerable people who can’t get the support they need. Homelessness, poor mental health, addiction and self-neglect have taken their toll.


Welcome to the ‘young olds’: middle-aged men and women suffering from the life-threatening health problems more common among people twenty years older.

‘Young olds’ urgently need their own specialist housing with carers on hand to provide support and help them address problems such as poor mobility, incontinence, mental ill-health and alcoholism.

It doesn't take long for life on the streets to take its toll
The campaign image that Thames Reach developed to highlight the problems faced by 'young olds'

Struggling to cope

What do you think?

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For more information on this campaign please contact the Thames Reach press office on 020 3664 9562 or 07816 113 420 or via email.

Photo of Peter Alsop
Peter Alsop

Peter Alsop drinks between five and ten cans of super strength cider every day. He lives in a hostel for the homeless, but staff there are struggling to provide the care he needs.

Peter suffers from blackouts and fits, has a very poor memory and great difficulty walking. He has received many injuries requiring hospital treatment after collapsing in the street and on staircases.

Peter also has problems looking after himself and the room he lives in. His bouts of incontinence lead to daily soiling of clothes and bedding.

Aged only 45, the former publican and hospital porter looks closer to 65. If he is to live much longer, he needs to live in a new type of project offering a higher level of staff support.


What can be done?

How local authorities can help

Many ‘young olds’ are stuck in unsuitable accommodation. Not all are in hostels for the homeless. Some are living in their own flats and finding it increasingly difficult to cope. Others are being supported in temporary housing funded by the council.

Typically, the type of full-time care ‘young olds’ require is provided for the elderly. Unfortunately, though, they are usually too young to receive this support, and they remain a low priority for residential care services.

‘Young olds’ urgently need their own specialist housing with carers on hand to help them address problems such as poor mobility, incontinence, mental ill-health and alcoholism. These projects need to be funded on the basis of people’s needs rather than their age.

'Young olds' projects can save money, as people will become less dependent on more expensive forms of care such as hospitals. It costs £154,000 a year to keep someone in a psychiatric unit, but under £25,000 a year to care for someone in a ‘young olds’ project.

More hostel bed spaces would be opened up, too, as ‘young olds’ move into accommodation that better meets their needs. This would allow a greater number of homeless people to escape a life on the streets.

How individuals and businesses can help

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine why someone would want to continue drinking or not look after themselves properly. Yet each person has their own unique story, and has often experienced significant traumas which triggered their downward spiral.

Thames Reach works hard, and with considerable success, to encourage people to stop drinking and to take better care of themselves.

Let us help these people to turn their lives around. Some can, and will, make lasting changes which will help halt their deterioration and provide them with the chance to give something back to the community.

The public and businesses can help us in this work by making a donation to Thames Reach.

Old before their time campaign poster/leaflet
Old before their time campaign poster/leaflet - [690 KB] Download a PDF of our campaigning newsletter and poster which covers the issue of the 'young olds'