Like most people approaching the half-century of life, I worry. About the usual things – how long will my health “hold out”, For how much longer will I still have enough cultural commonality with the undergraduates at work to talk to them without sounding like their father, etc.
But mostly, I worry about irrelevance. The feeling that once one is over 50, unless one is a remarkably well-preserved actress in the Joanna Lumley/Jane Seymour mode, all that society offers is a benign smile of tolerance.
Looking at people who actually are over 50, nothing could be less necessary. Psychologists tell us that, when the lives of the Great are examined, their 50s and 60s are their most productive and creative decades.
GEMS NI, a Belfast advocacy group for those over 50 has created the Kestrel Programme, a seven-objective initiative to emphasise and enhance the tremendous resources that people over 50 bring to the workplace, and to our society as a whole. The NI Lib Dems are proud to support it, and urge the elected representatives and service-providing bodies of South and East Belfast, the pilot site, to give it the support it needs to change the way people over 50 are viewed in a workplace culture that surrenders far too easily to the youth-centric popular culture, even at a time when changes in health, demographics and social gravity are rapidly making “age” less and less of a determinant of capability and contribution.
You can see the project specifications at http://www.gemsni.org.uk/kestrel/background.html