Age UK is a registered charity in the United Kingdom, formed on 25 February 2009, and launched on 1 April 2009, which combines the operations of the previously separate charities Age Concern and Help the Aged to form the UK's largest charity for older people. The charity operated as "Age Concern and Help the Aged" until the new brand launch on 19 April 2010. The brand also includes separate but interdependent charities for the UK regions : Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI, as well as its commercial services arm, Age UK Enterprises and new international charity, Age International.
Age UK was formed from the merger of Help the Aged and Age Concern, creating an organisation with a combined income of around £160 million, including £47 million a year raised through fundraising, and over 520 charity shops, and income raised through its commercial services arm, Age UK Enterprises.
Age Concern's origins are British and can be traced back to a realisation in that country of the effects on aged people of the Second World War; the dislocation and breakdown of family life arising out of conscription led to a recognition that existing poor laws failed to provide effective support for old people separated from family support networks. In 1940, the Old People's Welfare Committee (OPWC), chaired by Eleanor Rathbone, was formed as a forum for discussion between government and voluntary organisations. OPWC was a sub-committee of Liverpool Personal Service Society (PSS). In 1944, the committee changed its name to the National Old People's Welfare Committee (NOPWC), and took on responsibility for coordinating the activities of numerous local OPWCs.
From the 1950s onwards, NOPWC accessed government and local funds associated with the post-war development of the welfare state, to provide services to local committees, and training to wardens of old people's homes.
In 1971, under the direction of David Hobman, the NOPWC changed its public name to Age Concern, and separated itself entirely from government and the National Council for Social Service, (now NCVO). It did so while also launching a 'manifesto for old age' and establishing itself nationally as a lobbying body as well as an organisation that engaged in service provision and enhancement, training and research.
Help the Aged was founded in 1961 by Cecil Jackson-Cole, with the aim to free disadvantaged older people from poverty, isolation and neglect.
The two brand logos from the merged charities will gradually disappear now that the new Age UK brand has been launched (on 19 April 2010) and new brand-awareness develops during 2010. Hollywood stars Eleanor Bron, Brian Cox and Ian McKellen appeared in a series of TV advertisements to support the new charity. All three actors gave their time free of charge.
Age UK helps to fund, and is aided with funds raised by, the national will-making scheme Will aid, in which participating solicitors waive their usual fee to write a basic will and in exchange invite the client to donate to charity.
In January 2016, it was announced that Age UK's would be one of the chosen charities for Santander's The Discovery Project alongside Barnardo's. As well giving as financial donations to the charity project, Santander will also allow staff to volunteer on the phonelines.
In April 2012, Age UK launched The Wireless radio station. Initially an Internet-only station, broadcasting 24 hours a day. Featuring Graham Dene (ex-Capital Radio and Virgin Radio) and David Hamilton (ex-BBC Radio, Capital Gold and Saga Radio) as the lead presenters, The Wireless provides "a mix of music, entertainment, and information to improve later life in the UK". It also features a weekly news and current affairs show, Agenda, hosted by broadcaster and former BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis.