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Following the first European conference on advocacy with older people, held in Dublin in October 1997, a group of UK delegates were inspired to further the development of policy and practice at a national level. In August 1998 a groundbreaking national meeting of advocacy projects, pensioners’ organisations and community groups was held in London.
The need for independence, recognition and resourcing of advocacy schemes were highlighted as being important issues for action, along with the creation of meaningful quality standards and training within such schemes. A steering group was established to draw up a Statement of Intent and to begin the process of establishing a national alliance for independent advocacy with older people.
A limited circulation of The Statement of Intent in early 1999 attracted some 200 supporters from a wide range of interested bodies. There was overwhelming support for the steering group to move further forward and form a lead organisation for the promotion and development of independent advocacy with older people – the Older People’s Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL) UK.
The management committee to establish OPAAL as an Unincorporated Association drafted a formal constitution; members of the Committee endorsed this on August 31st 1999. At the first Annual Meeting of OPAAL on the 25th July 2000 this constitution was adopted by the membership and it was agreed to pursue registration as a Charity and develop a strategy and business plan to ensure it met its charitable objectives.