Older people with special skills are teaching the younger generation via an online marketplace
“We learn from the life experience of elders. We’re comforted by wisdom. Captivated by stories. These are special moments. Amazing, even.
The world is moving quickly and spinning ever faster towards the Next. New. Thing. But loving the new doesn’t mean neglecting the old. There’s value in knowledge that has been hard won; value in experience that has been built up over a lifetime.”
They are billed the Amazings: a band of men and women fighting against the idea that older people should go quietly towards the dying of the light. A novel enterprise aimed at ensuring the unique skills possessed by Britain’s senior citizens are not lost is poised to launch nationwide.
It is touted as an online marketplace for wisdom. Those over 50 who want to be one of the Amazings can post on the website the skills they have built up over a lifetime. It could be anything from bicycle repair to embroidery, and if enough people click to say they are interested, a class is created. Once listed, they decide a fee for their wisdom – typically about £20 for a two-hour evening class.
The social enterprise has been developed in London over the past year and will now be launched around the UK. The next location will be decided by the public. Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff are in the running.
Adil Abrar, who founded the social business, said: “The new old don’t want to be passive receivers of public money. Older people have skills, knowledge, wisdom and time. We wanted to reimagine public services and we realised it wasn’t about what we could do for older people, but what they could provide for us.”
At 52, Judith Paris is one of the Amazings’ youngest teachers. She runs a class in making cosmetics and has the full attention of six women in their twenties and thirties who have come from across the capital. She said: “A lot of older people feel they’ve got nothing to offer, but this is a way of using everyone’s talents. I think we’ve forgotten how to mix the generations.”
Tania Roque, 22, who attended the class, said: “It’s really important that older people are valued. In advertising and everywhere else you just see young people, but this is making a merit of older people. I also think it’s great to learn to be more self-sufficient; all these skills mean you don’t have to depend on money to get someone to do something for you.”
“We wanted to enable elders to share skills and bring generations together. But taking a step back we realised that one-off experiences wasn’t the way. The connections we were creating were too shallow. We needed to stop thinking about ourselves as a ‘nice day out’ and more about being in the business of providing education, developing skills and helping people really learn. ‘Try something old, learn something new’ – that was our new motto. This was a poster ‘made’ at our designer’s house. All items original and pre-loved.”