See the person, not the age

  • The List
  • 21 August 2008
See the person, not the age

The Scottish Government has launched a campaign that tackles negative perceptions of older people. It will highlight the positive and valuable contributions that older people make to life in Scotland today. It also looks at the similar negative perceptions faced by younger people.

Custom has often dictated the age at which we should and should not do things – exercise, employment, retirement or starting a family. But increasingly age conventions are being redefined.

CSV’s Retired Senior and Volunteer Programme exists to encourage a growing number of those aged fifty plus to volunteer in their local area. It taps into their wide range of skills for the benefit of local communities.

The Schools Project, in particular, attracts a number of retired and senior volunteers. It matches volunteers to a primary school close to where they live. The volunteer then attends the school to assist teachers in a variety of activities, inside and outside the classroom, once or twice a week. This not only benefits teaching staff, but also encourages learning between young and old as the children are taught important skills and social behaviour by volunteers.

Anna Ross (67) from Embo believes that being young at heart is one reason why she feels a connection with the children at her local school. Anna volunteers at Knockbreck Primary and takes part in a wide scope of activities while working with pupils of all ages.

Anna explains: “Teachers and classroom assistants welcome the additional help of volunteers as they often have busy workloads. This is why RSVP volunteers are important, as we are able to centre all our attention on any child who may need extra help.” Anna listens to students read, as well as encouraging them with maths and spelling, in a manner that allows them to enjoy their work: “I am a great believer that learning should be fun, at any age.”

Anna knows it is all worthwhile when a child finally grasps an aspect of a subject that she has been helping them with: “It is so fulfilling to watch a child gain confidence in their work and their ability to achieve.”

Coming home for retirement in 2000 after working abroad for 24 years resulted in Anna becoming bored of her every day routine. Having worked as a lecturer of English in Central Asia, Anna was very keen to get back into the classroom.

As soon as she saw the recruitment message for RSVP Schools Project she jumped at the chance to help out: “As I was away from home for so long, I was very lonely and eager to mix back into my local community and contribute in some way. That is why I knew the Schools Project would be the right thing for me.”

Anna explained that age has allowed her to be more patient with people, especially the students. However she does believe that her perspective on life is the same as 20 to 30 years ago as some days she feels as though she is 30 again.

See the person not the age will raise awareness of age through national television, radio, online and press advertising, and also locally to raise awareness of the nearby opportunities that exist for older people.

To find out more information visit:


1. B-Boy14 Jul 2008, 3:07pm Report

Good to see. I think that older people define their own age. You see some 50 year olds acting like they're 80 and vice versa. The more active people are the younger they'll generally feel...

2. Juliet15 Jul 2008, 11:41am Report

I agree. I plan to be a cool old lady when I am older. I hope I am slightly eccentric (perhaps with a small dog?) & a happy old lady face because I have smiled a lot during my many, many years.

There's no point being mean to old people, they're ace!

Children on the other hand.....

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5. Helena18 Jul 2008, 12:37pm Report

I find that people are obsessed with wanting to know your age ! I seem to appear much younger than I am (just being me !!) and do not give out my age except on official documents....
Usually I feel people want to slot you into a way of being or put limitations/judgements on you !! This really concerns me...I rememeber a job I had with older people and I always told staff NOT to call clients an " Old Age Pensioner " ugh! how horrible ! I realised that for some people it was a horrendous discovery that ,One day you were ...and then suddenly next day/birthday you woke up just feeling the same and horrors of horrors, folk callled you An OLD AGE pensioner and your world and self-esteem took one mighty thump ! I myself am not at that point YET ! but sometimes I feel that I am gonna be classed as a deciever when people I know to be older than me make comments like " but you've got a long time to go before .........! " I just keep quiet cos I ain't going down that path of
" not at your age dearie " !

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