Dame Joan Bakewell appointed Voice of Older People

One of the UK’s first high-profile female broadcasters has been appointed by the government as the “Voice of Older People”.

Dame Joan Bakewell, who shot to fame as a presenter with the BBC’s Late Night Line-Up in the 1960s, will act as an “independent and informed advocate” on issues affecting older people’s lives after she was chosen by equality minister Harriet Harman.

Bakewell will also attempt to raise the profile of age equality issues and encourage public debate surrounding the Equality Bill as it progresses through parliament in the coming months.

She said: “I look forward to being one of many voices making it widely known what it means to be old, and how to make the most of those important years.”

“We all – not just the over 50s – need to confront such concerns now so that we move to a reassuring future where people can look forward to enjoying their old age in peace”

Harman added: “Joan is a champion in the fight against discrimination against older people and a role model for active and positive senior citizens so I’m delighted that she’s going to contribute to the equalities agenda and be a voice for older people.”

Last month, a senior MP warned of stricter diversity reporting rules for private sector employers when the Equality Bill is officially set out in the Queen’s Speech in December.

And leading HR directors have backed a campaign by Personnel Today and the Employers Forum on Age to force the government to commit to remove the default retirement age in 2011.

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