This week I attended ‘The Age of No Retirement’ 3-day event in Manchester. Time is always short when you’re working on a start-up so taking 3 days out is a big commitment but boy was it worth it. This growing and exciting movement is all about breaking down age barriers and looking at the tough questions that we face as a society that’s living longer. These challenges were broken down into 4 themes: ‘Inter-generational’, ‘Design for Change’, ‘One- Life’ and ‘Work & Employability.
The first couple of days were about solving these questions in a radical and innovative way. In practice that meant randomly dividing those present with a diverse range of backgrounds, skills, ages and experience into groups, locking them in a room and not letting them out until they had come up with an implementable initiative to take forward to address the issue at hand. Beforehand, Mat Hunter from The Design Council suggested that we should start by making simple things that over time would add up to something bigger and to switch our minds off from regulation and sacred cows to allow our imagination to flow. The 24 Co-Design Labs were billed as collaborative and innovative design-led thinking and I’m pleased to report that’s just what they were.
By the end of the two days the brain cogs had been whirring so much this entrepreneur was both rather knackered yet energised and inspired by the process and the progress made. Given the leadership of Jonathan Collie and Georgina Lee, together with the skilled Facilitators they gathered together, this is a movement that’s about action not talking and after a few weeks of digesting the initiatives designed over the two days things will start to move forward.
What we all needed to recharge the batteries was to listen to some inspiring stories and that’s just what the conference delivered on day 3. We had a whole array of speakers from the corporate world, from charitable foundations, small businesses and social enterprises who told us about real world examples of change or practice around the key themes. In fact there was so much interesting food for thought that I will be writing about all the good stuff in future post’s.
Of all the inspiring stories and inspirational speakers of the day it was Pauline Wiltshire who really made a lasting impression on me for two reasons. Pauline is a now retired former employee at Barclays who is a driving force for digital inclusion for older people. A while back she arranged a couple of training sessions at the Apple store for older people: the younger employee who ran them was up for making it a regular event but this was blocked by his boss (boo hiss Apple). Undeterred she turned to Barclays and this led to a ‘tea, cakes and how to do technology’ session at Barclays Canary Wharf HQ. These sessions have now spread across the UK and are led by Barclays’ in-branch ‘Digital Eagles’ for anyone who wants to improve their digital literacy.
But there’s a second reason why Pauline impressed: as a single women living on her own she was happy to admit to being lonely sometimes. One of the issues we want to tackle at BuddyHub is to try and break the stigma of loneliness. There is a great deal of awareness campaigning around breaking down the stigma of mental ill health and the same needs to happen around loneliness. It’s an incredibly common experience so thanks Pauline for just being matter-of-fact about it because that’s what we’re aiming for too.