Inspiring grannies wanted

alligatorIs there anyone over the age of 65 you could listen to for hours and hours?

My friends Amanda and Elizabeth, who together make up A+E, are on the lookout for individuals who have the kind of accumulated expertise you can’t get from reading Wikipedia and who are capable of telling you about it in a compelling way.

A+E help deliver projects for businesses of all kinds and they’re full of ideas. Right now they’re looking for older people who have stories to tell and fascinating information to impart. They say the people they’re looking for:

may have an unusual professional background, knowledge of a subject through a lifelong hobby, or insights from a wealth of experiences. No topic is off limits at this stage, whether their thing is art dealing, astronomy, ancient Mesopotamia, alligator hunting or Artic exploration – anything under or over the sun.

Does your grandparent, parent, friend, retired ex-colleague or neighbour fit the bill? Who do you know who’s older and simply must have their stories and insights heard?

Email any ideas to amanda@a-and-e.co.uk / lizzie@a-and-e.co.uk or tweet @amandagore or @lizzieostrom. Our criteria: that they’re based in the UK, that you could listen to them for hours and still want more, that they are in your opinion GREAT, and they’re old enough. No young ‘uns need apply.

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What happens when you’re old and gay?

Opening Doors

Some of the members of Opening Doors, from left: Donald Black, Tom Devine, Alexander Duncan, Willie Millar, Lyndon Scarffe

Angelo Marcellini is 75 and lives in sheltered housing in London. When he’s in the lift, his fellow residents won’t join him. If he comes in, they leave. Only two of the households on his floor speak to him. Angelo is gay. The managers of his sheltered housing are evangelical Christians and they won’t help because they don’t like him either.

Many older people are having to find new ways to live, but perhaps none as obviously as gays and lesbians. Previous generations of older gay people weren’t out; they were invisible throughout their lives and expected to stay that way when they became old or vulnerable. But for the current generation, that’s simply not good enough. Civil partnerships and equality legislation have changed Britain. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people know they are entitled to to be acknowledged for themselves. They no longer have to pretend to be something else.

The progress that has been made is the direct result of the campaigning and suffering of the older generation; by rights gay elders should now be celebrated by a society that has finally found itself at ease with their sexuality. But when I went to see a group of older gay men who meet to discuss issues affecting older gay people and asked what these were, they said: ‘persecution, depression, suicide, homophobia.’ Continue reading

Grandmentors: the new idea from the Department for the Big Society

troubled teensOlder people are to be recruited to mentor troubled teenagers and help them get back into education, training or work under a new initiative launched today at the House of Lords. The idea is credited to Lord Freud, the former Financial Times journalist, banker and New Labour advisor, now Conservative peer and Minister for Welfare Reform, whose family charity will part fund it. Under a pilot scheme, grandmentors will be recruited by Community Service Volunteers to advise and support to up to 60 14-19 year-olds in Islington and Hackney over the next three years. Continue reading