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Celebrating 10 years of knitting with the Big Knit

Published 05/02/2019


The innocent Big Knit is back and it’s bigger than ever

Age Action and innocent drinks have launched the 2019 Big Knit, calling on knitters around the country to help knit little hats to raise funds for Age Action by July 31st.

We’re woolly excited 

Winnie O’Doherty, Churchtown (right),  and Anne Kelly, (left) Inchicore  members of the Age Action Camden Street knitting circle helped launch Big Knit 2019 with Age Action and innocent drinks along with Brendan Courtney and his mother Nuala. Knitters around the country are asked to help knit little hats to raise funds for Age Action. For every hat received by innocent, 30c is donated to Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people which raises awareness of the valuable contribution older people make to society and advocates for the rights of all older people.


innocent drinks Ireland is asking knitters and crocheters around the country to knit 100,000 little hats in a fundraising effort for Age Action. For every hat received by innocent, 30c is donated to Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people which raises awareness of the valuable contribution older people make to society and advocates for the rights of all older people.

From now until 31 July 2019, innocent and Age Action are calling out to veteran knitters and newcomers alike, to grab their knitting needles and get clacking for this brilliant cause.

Caroline O'Connell, Head of Fundraising at Age Action, said: “The Big Knit is one of Age Action’s longest running fundraising campaigns, raising vital funds for our work as well as generating awareness of the issues facing older people. At the heart of the campaign is the idea that anyone can help an older person stay well and warm during the more difficult winter months simply by knitting a hat.  Many older people struggle over the colder months and this campaign helps Age Action to be there for older people when they need us most; whether they need information or small repairs done to their homes to help them be winter ready, the Big Knit helps us to deliver that service.”

Laura O’Connell, Communities Specialist at innocent said: “We are really proud of the Big Knit at innocent and what it does to help older people stay warm and well in winter. Over the years we’ve worked with Age Action and the generosity of each Irish knitter around the country is truly overwhelming and fills us with a great sense of pride. And, of course, it’s always nice to get a nation knitting.”

Winnie O’Doherty, star knitter for the Big Knit and a member of an Age Action knitting group that meets in the Age Action Store on Camden Street every week says: “I love knitting with the Age Action knitting group. I’ve been coming here nearly every week for the last 9 years; I like the company. We’re great friends and we have a good natter. We really understand each other and give each other some good tips, not only on knitting!”

Brendan Courtney said “Myself and my Mum Nuala are thrilled to be part of the Age Action innocent Big Knit 2019. Knitting circles are popping up all over the country which is a great way to keep communities connected especially when they bring young and old together. The beauty of these little hats is that they don't have to be catwalk standard - just knitted with care for our older friends and family".

Over the past ten years the Irish public knitted an astonishing 490,000 hats and helped raise €170,000 for Age Action.   

From October 2019, the nation’s little hats will appear on innocent smoothie bottles (250ml) across the country. For each bottle sold wearing a little hat, innocent Drinks will donate 30 cent to Age Action.

Hats can be sent to The Big Knit 2019, innocent drinks, Fruit Towers, 2 Ballsbridge Park, Dublin 4 or dropped into any of Age Action’s shops or offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Monaghan.




Age Based Analysis of Mortgage Arrears Released for First Time

We welcome the publication, by the Irish Times, of data released for the first time by the Central Bank of Ireland that shows the number of people approaching, or already at retirement age, who are dealing wtih significant mortgage debt. The information gives a clearer picture of the worrying situation for Ireland’s ageing population. Simply, a lack of evidence exists on the cost of ageing with less complete data collected about us the older we become. As a result, crucial policy decisions are made without the availability of disaggregated and representative data which can result in discriminatory outcomes. We need an urgent rethinking of how we gather evidence and inform policy that meets the needs of a changing Ireland.

While there has been an assumption that older people close to, and in receipt of, the State pension are generally mortgage-free home owners, it is clear that this is no longer true with many still carrying large mortgages, in mortgage arrears or living in precarious private rentals with no security of tenure in older age. We should all have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer; but the changing nature of homeownership, rising cost of living, and the lack of a coordinated policy response to the housing crisis means many people will be facing a very difficult situation in later life. 

Many older people live in the most vulnerable situations in our society. An increasing number are struggling to meet the rising cost of living – in particular costs around rent and mortgages - in the context of a State pension that sees many surviving on incomes only just above the poverty line. Latest CSO EU SILC figures show 1 in 10 older people at risk of poverty. New taxes, and rising prices in recent years have a greater impact on older people generally living on a fixed income with limited opportunities to improve their situation. Budget 2020 saw the income of older person headed households increase by €1.08 per week for those living with another person, and by €6.08 per week for those living alone in older age. It did not offer the majority of older people the support needed to meet the increasing costs of living and it did not offer a concrete plan to support us to age in place.

Ageist attitudes towards working later in life still exist, for example many older people have reported high levels of discrimination during recruitment. Discriminatory mandatory retirement clauses are still in place forcing people out of the workforce earlier than they may wish. These two things undermine people’s ability to continue working in later life whether by choice or necessity. In the context of a buoyant labour market, we urgently need a fundamental shift in how we view and support older workers.

An increasing number of older people are experiencing fear about retirement due to worries about income adequacy. Less than half of those working have a private or occupational pension to support them in later life. While Age Action welcomes the publication of the recent autoenrolment scheme by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection which will see increased pension coverage for more than an estimated half a million workers, the current design will further drive existing pension inequalities unless there is a targeted intervention to include people in low paid jobs, particularly women and long term unemployed.

Our economy has been built on the backs of those already in, and approaching, older age: these are the same women and men who lived through the Marriage Bar, shouldered several recessions and are now dealing with the accumulated disadvantages. Successive government policies have failed to adequately plan and provide for an ageing population which will ultimately impact on all of us throughout our lives.