Maria, aged 83, from Mozambique is a beneficiary of the work of our local partner organisation. Here seen smiling, working with fabric.

Rising to challenges across the world

Annual report 2021/22

We are here to make sure every older person, everywhere, can lead a healthy, dignified and secure life. This report highlights our actions and progress throughout 2021 and early 2022.

A letter from the Chair and CEO

The year 2021/22 has been a time of real change at HelpAge International: change in the way we work and changes in the world around us.

Read the whole letter
Arun Maira portrait photo
Arun Maira
Chair of Trustees
Justin Derbyshire portrait photo
Justin Derbyshire
Chief Executive Officer

Our year
in numbers

Older people supported by our community-based projects
That’s almost
older people
in total
Older people helped by our humanitarian emergency work
More than
Older People’s Associations supported
older people
Funded activities by
partners and network members around the world
Haji Hamis Haji behind the counter of his shop
The HelpAge team are on the ground in Sloviansk, Ukraine, supporting older people. © Alberto Lores / EU ECHO / People in Need

In 2021/22 we focused on seven main thematic areas, to ensure we protected the wellbeing, dignity and rights of the older people we work with.

Inclusive humanitarian action

Older male refugee at Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh wearing a bright yellow face mask
Dida Racha Guyo, 65, Ethiopia, lost his livestock to drought. © Admasu Brook / HelpAge International

In 2021 the world faced numerous humanitarian challenges, every one of them magnified by Covid-19. Older people struggled in already extreme circumstances, their lives and rights increasingly threatened and reduced. We are determined to do what we can to ensure older people are seen, heard, and respected whenever and wherever an emergency hits.

Snapshot of inclusive humanitarian action

  • 18
    We responded to emergencies in 18 countries
  • 15k
    older people accessed livelihood support and cash transfers
  • 441k
    older people accessed health, shelter, water and sanitation

Find out more

Healthy ageing

Purrificacao Jose next to three pigs that eat out of a bowl
Taking part in a fitness class on a Myanmar rooftop. © Nang Su Hnin Htwe / HelpAge International Myanmar

Promoting healthy ageing is about maximising everyone’s ability to continue to do the things that matter to us as we get older. Staying healthy and feeling good is everyone’s right, no matter their age. We work with network members and partners to promote healthy ageing so that everyone, everywhere can continue to do the things that matter to them as they get older.

Snapshot of healthy ageing

  • 827k
    older people supported with health care
  • 5
    countries improved national policies on long-term care with our technical assistance
  • 2k
    healthcare workers trained to support older people

Find out more


Old woman surrounded by three children in front of temporary shelter
Ummat Ali, 70, is waiting for his call to visit the doctor in an Age Friendly Space in the Cox’s Bazar Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. © Fabeha Monir / Age International

Covid-19 continued to have a devastating effect on older people around the world, especially as a result of vaccine inequity and ageist lockdown policies. Much of our work focused on ensuring older and at-risk people had access to information, personal protective equipment, health screening and vaccinations when and where needed.

Snapshot of Covid-19

  • 181k
    people received support with health care in response to Covid-19
  • 443k
    people received humanitarian assistance via HelpAge network emergency responses
  • 9.5m
    older people received additional income support from their government

Find out more

Income security

An older lady together with two younger persons doing craft
Mwanahamisi Amir Said, 83, Tanzania, is supporting her two children and five grandchildren with income from her charcoal business. © Michael Goima / Fairpicture / HelpAge International

A secure income is key to living with dignity. That applies for everyone – no matter what their age or position in society. HelpAge works to increase older people’s incomes through advocacy and practical action. We push governments for positive change to social welfare policies, and advocate for decent work and financial inclusion for all. 

Snapshot of income security

  • 17k
    older people received a government pension or cash transfer in 12 target countries
  • 5
    of our target countries increased social pension payments to older people 

Find out more

Society for all ages

An older Korean activists reading from a paper on a stage
Older people in Moldova are learning to use a smartphone. © Eduard Bîzgu / HelpAge International

By 2050, over two billion people will be aged over 60. But many societies still shun and discriminate against older people, leaving them unable to support themselves or act as valued members of the community. We want to achieve a world where we are all recognised and respected as individuals, embraced equally, and treated fairly and without discrimination in older age. 

Snapshot of society for all ages

  • 7.5k
    OPAs in 14 countries received support
  • 20
    countries with functioning national platforms, movements, or campaigns to support older peoples’ rights
  • 12k
    older people were able to participate in community programmes and activities that strengthen social connections
  • 3
    new age-inclusive national laws and policies were passed in Latin America and the Caribbean

Find out more

Equality and inclusion

Nepalese older lady raising her hand and smiling
Aselefech Zeleke, 70, lives alone at her house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is an active OPA member which gives her a strong sense of community and enables her to earn an income. © Maheder Haileselassie Tadese / Fairpicture / HelpAge International

In countries across the world, we are still very far from equality for older women and older people with disabilities. Their rights too often remain ignored or overlooked. At HelpAge we believe that by upholding the value and dignity of every individual in every aspect of our work, we can respect differences and push for equality in all we do.

Find out more

Climate change

An older Korean activists reading from a paper on a stage
Pramod Bista, 61, Nepal, cultivates soil for agriculture. © Ganesh Bista / Ageing Nepal

Floods, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, cyclones and changing weather patterns are all increasing in frequency and devastation. It is vital that humanity acts now to stop the worst of the damage. That’s why we are working in partnership with older people to learn from their lifetimes of knowledge and experience in the face of a changing climate.

Snapshot of climate change

  • Extreme weather events can have a devastating impact on older people – but they are often powerful actors in taking steps to address the climate crisis.
  • Negative perceptions of older people being indifferent or opposed to climate action do not hold true.
  • We see older people every day demonstrating a strong commitment to climate action.

Find out more

Older men in Tanzania playing a traditional game of Bao. © Michael Goima / Fairpicture / HelpAge International

Our values

Diagram showing our four values: We strive for significant and lasting impact. We are inclusive. We are passionate about learning. We work as committed partners.

Strategy 2030

Critical debates around #shiftingpower and decolonisation of aid ask vital questions of organisations such as our own. Recognising the need to ensure all HelpAge interventions are truly locally-led – designed, led and delivered by national or local stakeholders – our 10-year Strategy 2030 places locally-led development at its heart.

To achieve this, we know we must work in a more agile way, growing our networks and partnerships and placing them front and centre. This means adapting our own role to one of three things:

We support network members and partners to deliver quality services and programming.
We convene a diverse range of stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines to foster national, regional, and international collaboration.
We work with network members, partners and allies to develop new thinking matched with practical solutions to address global trends effecting older people.

These three roles form the foundations of our changing approach. They are underpinned by a process of reflection and transformation of our organisational systems and processes.

In 2021, this included:

  • Capturing learning and good practice on partner-led programming from within HelpAge and the sector.
  • Growing our leadership and innovation skills
    through a leadership programme and other learning opportunities for staff and partners.
  • Investing in new tools and systems, skills, capabilities and learning platforms covering such topics as virtual collaboration, digital measurement and evaluation systems, and innovation and leadership in disruptive times.
  • Forming an Indaba, a Zulu term for a forum to discuss matters of importance, with network members and partners. Through regular conversations, the Indaba provides feedback and guidance on the journey ahead. 
  • Starting the process at 13 HelpAge country offices towards operating as locally-led entities. 
  • Carrying out participatory assessments and consultations in four countries, with country transition models developed. 
  • Collaborating with localisation initiatives, including Stopping at Success, Bond and Re-Imagining INGOs.
  • Improving our planning and reporting systems, developing a streamlined organisational results framework to evaluate our impact and outcomes.

The global network

The HelpAge Global network lies at the heart of all our work at HelpAge. The partnership and support of network members strengthens our work and enables us to deliver our programmes and activities, as well as helping us raise the voice of older people through advocacy and campaigns.

The network continued to grow last year, with 11 new members coming forward to support our work to make this a better world to grow old in.

We were pleased to welcome our first members from Iraq and Yemen into the global alliance, extending our reach to 90 countries around the world.

new members
in 2021/22

HelpAge has network members in the countries marked in red.

Our funders

Our work to create a better world for older people would not be possible without the support of our funders. We wish to thank them all for their generosity, support and commitment to our vision of a world where everyone can lead dignified, healthy and secure lives, whatever their age.

With special thanks to our supporting members: Age International, HelpAge Canada, HelpAge Deutschland, HelpAge Italia, HelpAge Korea, HelpAge USA.

Our finances

Where our money came from

Pie chart showing by-country breakdown of income sources

Where we spent this money

Pie chart showing by-country breakdown of expenditure

How we spent this money

Pie chart showing expenditure breakdown by area of work
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