We live a rapidly ageing society. Overall, the rate of ageing in the Church in England and Wales is higher than that for the wider population. But while people are living much longer, the age of ‘retirement’ and the public care system have changed little in recent times. These major social changes pose urgent questions to all of us. First, how can organised social action respond – in mission, in delivery and in employment – to our new realities? Secondly, how can we influence what the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has termed the ‘national scandal’ of parts of the care system? As widespread longevity is relatively new in human history, it has yet to be explored more deeply in Catholic Social Teaching.

On 4 December 2019, CSAN launched two new resources that start to address these questions in national and local contexts. The resources draw from the Embrace Project, which was the first ever national formal collaboration between members of the Caritas network – Caritas Salford, Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) and Father Hudson’s Care – and CSAN’s national team, plus new Catholic social thought and field research.

‘Reaching Out’ aims to inspire Catholic parishes and others to become more confident in discerning and organising group-based activities that older people feel right for them. It includes ten examples from parish initiatives established in the Embrace Project, with guidance for the main stages of establishing activities and links to resources within and beyond Catholic contexts.

‘Care in Time’ addresses the roots of the care crisis and calls for collaboration among Catholic and other organisations, to create the kind of care people want to see. With input from Catholic organisations, care home residents and working age adults in parishes, it explores how the dignity of older people and carers is denied in our society, through the growing isolation of older people, and how policy makers’ emphasis on markets has affected public attitudes to care and the capacity of carers, family members, volunteers, professionals and Catholic care providers.

The new resources and a link to a film of the launch event are available at