New films bring home the reality of pensioner poverty

Actors Jane Asher and Vincent Ebrahim star in the first two in a series of powerful films created by Independent Age to tackle the stigma of poverty in later life.

The films demonstrate the reality of financial hardship for people in later life and highlight the support that is available. Jane and Vincent deliver scripts based on real calls to the Independent Age helpline.

Jane Asher plays Jill, a former wedding dress shop owner who lost her business during COVID-19 and after a divorce has found herself living with her daughter. Vincent Ebrahim’s character Robert is a former bookkeeper whose retirement income couldn’t keep up with the cost of living.

Both stories show the challenges of life on a low income for older people and the solutions that Independent Age advisers can offer. On average, callers to Independent Age are missing out on around £4,000 in additional financial support each year, and the charity says this money can be life changing.

 “Times are incredibly tough at the moment,” says Jane. “No one in later life should have to face money worries alone and unsupported or feel ashamed of asking for help.

“Stories like Jill’s show how a person’s circumstances can change so quickly, but it’s reassuring to know that charities like Independent Age are there to provide advice and support, and to make life worth living again.”

On his involvement, Vincent said: “Robert’s story is just one example of how the cost of living is impacting people aged over 65. Independent Age frequently hears from older people who have worked all their lives, but now they have retired, their income isn’t enough to even scrape by.”

The films have been launched as part of the charity’s ‘A Life Worth Living’ appeal to raise money for their helpline. 2.1 million older people are in poverty in the UK, and millions more are living precariously on the edge. Independent Age is focused on supporting older people in financial hardship. Any money raised will enable them to help more older people to unlock the financial support they are entitled to. This can include support like Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said: “There is a dangerous misconception that all older people are enjoying their retirement free from money worries but this could not be further from the truth for the millions of people in later life living in poverty.

“We hear from older people who have cut back to eating just one meal a day, or are sitting in cold and dark homes because they fear an unmanageable energy bill. Many are reaching out for the first time because of the cost-of-living and many tell us they feel ashamed of asking for help. This should never be the case.

“Through this powerful series, we want to show the reality of poverty in later life, but also show that support is available. Our helpline provides a lifeline for older people in financial hardship – one that takes them from what is often a very dark place.

“But our work isn’t possible without donations. Please donate whatever you can to help us make life worth living again for older people in financial hardship.”

Independent Age’s free and confidential helpline number is 0800 319 6789. The team can also be reached on

View the films here:

Vincent Ebrahim as Robert:

Jane Asher as Jill:

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