‘Isn’t it time to be optimistic about our ageing society?’

The Age Action Alliance Thematic group on Valuing the Contributions of Older People held a special seminar to ask how the retirement transition can be a time of releasing people’s potential, and what we need for that to happen.

It was attended by a diverse group working in: research and policy, grant-making, the voluntary sector, local authorities and social ventures providing opportunities for the over 50s.

Coincidentally Camden Council held an event the following Monday  for people aged 50 and over focusing upon issues relating to employment, developing enterprises, adult learning, training and volunteering. The event aimed to explore Older People’s experiences of looking for work, the existing skills learning and aspirations of older people and the barriers they have experienced finding work

Interestingly the messages from that event reinforced the points emerging from the Seminar:-

  • The acknowledgement that there is an emergent and growing group of people  who are finishing their main occupation but who do not yet concider themselves  ‘retired’. These people are ‘in betweeners’.
  • We are charting new territory. People in this group find it  difficult to navigate between these stages of life, we need something different to our parents or grandparents and there no clear role models.
  • We need to create a ‘platform’ to focus and co-ordinate discussion and action on “transition” issues, if we are to fulfil our potential as individuals and for society to benefit.

The question still remains – whose role is it to bring together this focus – to coordinate and lead?

In the past one may have looked to the Local Authority, but times are different. The age sector might be able to lead, but ‘in-betweeners’ often don’t think of themselves as old or indentify with the issues at the forefront of age sector debates. Perhaps we need a new alliance of partners including businesses, those concerned with this transition, and older entrepreneurs themsleves?

We may be seeing new moves on the “old”!

If you would like to get involved in further thinking and action on this look out for more events on the Alliance Weekly Update for Members coming in the spring.

Dave Martin



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by Dan Keating

As an, almost, eighty-year-old now living alone in Cambridge, but with a long history of community social work, your comments are well placed. But the the new territory is actually here although people like me are never asked, in spite of years of trying, to argue for and support community development theory and practice, for even an opinion. So I hope the discussion will also include the regions

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