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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LMA/4613
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1980s-2012
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.69 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Association of Greater London Older Women | 1993- xx Older Women's Project | c 1984-1993


Administrative/Biographical history:

AGLOW is an association that campaigns for improved status, rights and services for older women, challenges ageism, sexism, homophobia, racism, and disableism, holds conferences and workshops on health, social care and education issues, uses drama based on members' experiences to raise awareness and promote good practice, and performs at conferences, festivals, workshops, forums, day centres, schools, and colleges.

Currently (to 2012) funded by Trust for London (formerly City Parochial Foundation) and the Co-operative Membership Community Fund, and supported by the London Health Commission, it has played a unique role in the Greater London area amongst older women and has links to a number of other older and concurrent groups.

AGLOW began its existence as the Older Women's Project (O.W.P), a London-based campaigning organisation, under the umbrella organisation Pensioners' Link (a London-wide charitable organisation formerly known as Task Force; with Centres in 12 London Boroughs at the time OWP was set-up).

The Older Women's Project was developed by Pensioner's Link staff in the early 1980's working in light of newly established anti-racist and equal opportunity policies and recognising that ageism, with an overlay of sexism was rendering many older women invisible by many of the agencies with the power to affect their lives.

Small older women's groups were first formed in Brent and Lewisham to create opportunities for older women to meet and discuss their mutual concerns, and at Camden additional funding from the Camden Women's Committee was raised to organise an 'Older Women's Day' where the Chair of the GLC Women's' Committee gave the opening speech. The undoubted success of these initiatives encouraged Pensioner's Link staff to take forward the idea of a London-wide Older Women's Project with the aim to bring together older women of different cultures and backgrounds to discuss and campaign around issues affecting their lives.

A Working Group was formed with members representing a variety of different interests, ethnicities and backgrounds, and all in agreement the Older Women's Project should be planned and monitored by women themselves. With the Pensioner's Link Management Committee, a successful bid for funding from the GLC Women's Committee was made - securing initial funds for the administrative costs of Pensioner's Link's involvement with the Project, the Project costs and the salary of one worker. Much of this start-up work was led by Zelda Curtis (1923-2012), a feminist and campaigner also known as 'Zelda the Elder' who served as a co-opted member of the Women's' Committee of the GLC c 1984-1985, and from 1984 as a paid worker for the Pensioners Link Older Women's' Project. Pam Wright became the first salaried project worker when appointed in 1985.

The Project worked from the start with minority groups, produced a quarterly newsletter, reports and information packs, and held regular conferences, and festivals; the first London-wide festival (to coincide with International Women's Day and GLC celebrations in the localities) being the 'Older Women's festival on 16th -17th March 1985 at Grays Inn Resource Centre.

Other notable events include, 'An Afternoon with Ellen Kuzwayo (a prominent writer and activist for Black Rights in South Africa) on 23rd May 1985, an 'Irish Event' on 5th October 1985, the Older Women's Health Festival on 16th and 17th November 1985, and the 'Older Women Talking' day on 20 November 1986 - which was held largely to encourage the formation of other local older women's groups, and had direct links to the creation of the Waltham Forest Older Women's Group and Hackney Older Women's Group. Other associated notable local groups such as Newham Older Women formed later.

Inherently concerned with the dissemination of relevant information to older women (the OWP had a variety of exhibition material, books, reports and videos available on loan to older women, Pensioners Link local groups, and relevant women's groups nation-wide), the Older Women's Education group was formed to co-ordinate Study days for older women; the first, 'Older Women: Changing Perspectives', taking place on 21st May 1988. With Birkbeck College, the OWP also helped to found the Older Women's Education Group and was represented on the Educational Resources for Older People's Committee.

Although many OWP activities were organised with partners and/or with additional project-funding from other bodies, the main source of the Project's financial support came via Pensioner's Link until c. 1991 when disputes arose between the OWP and the Management Committee of Pensioner's Link in regard to the role and remit of the OWP Working Group and the management of the OWP generally. By 1992 these on-going issues were exacerbated by financial difficulties at Pensioner's Link, with the central office of Pensioner's Link losing its grant from the London Borough Grants Committee in 1993 (although other offices retained their and continued to work with pensioners).

Given these circumstances, the group decided to apply for funding separate from Pensioners' Link and approached the London Boroughs Grants Committee and the St. James' Trust. A Steering Committee guided the work of the OWP during this transition period toward becoming the Association of Greater London Older Women (AGLOW); working out a constitution, publicising their intentions, setting up systems for a membership organisation and re-negotiating a lease for the office.

Once funding was secured, AGLOW (Association of Greater London Older Women) launched with a 'Conference of Community Care' and an inaugural Management Committee meeting held at the London Women's Centre on September 9th 1993.

Campaign work continued through involvement in groups such as the Older Women's Education group and the Mental Health Core group, and in events such as the 'Regarding Older Women' Conference' in Belfast in 1993. With funded staff on board, 'Get-Togethers', work with Black and Ethnic communities and a Conference for Older Lesbians were organised, with a programme of other events, literature production, campaigns and networking continuing to bring older women together, in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere, to share their experiences, display their talents, learn new skills and enrich their lives.

Originally based in the Central Office of Pensioner's Link at 17 Balfe Street, London N1 AGLOW moved to its current premises in Manor Gardens Centre, London, N1 in 2001 - where many records, including photographs and records dating from the transition period between OWP and AGLOW, have been retained by AGLOW.

Sources of information:


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Association of Greater London Older Women (AGLOW), 1980s - 2012, including minutes and reports; papers and correspondence; newsletters; publications and articles; received publications; audio-visual material; and records relating to the Older Women's Project.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

These records are arranged as follows:


Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in June 2012.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The material in this deposit complements other collections already held at London Metropolitan Archives documenting the lives of Londoners, and those from lesbian and ethnic groups. These include the Greater London Council (GLC), Women's Local Government Association (A/WLG); Pilgrim Trust (LMA/4450), Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Limited {Black Caribbean Publishers and Booksellers} (LMA/4462), Lesbian London (LMA/4540), the Muslim Women's Helpline (LMA/4496), and Manor Gardens Centre (LMA/4314).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Added January 2013.

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