Thursday, 12 July 2012

Grandparents, Childcare and Working #whenim65 
If we remove ageism as a barrier to work then anyone who is healthy, fit and willing should be able to contribute to society by working– no matter what their age. BBC 1’s documentary The Town that Never Retired was insightful

However, it investigated the concept of what work is within a fairly conventional framework. If we are serious about tackling the major issues facing our society (an ageing population, the pension crisis, high youth unemployment, unaffordable childcare etc) then we need a radical re-think about what work is and how it is valued and remunerated.

Grandparents and childcare
My children’s grandparents are all over 65 and working. Some of the work they do is paid and some is voluntary but they all hold positions of responsibility. My in-laws also offer invaluable free childcare support to me and my husband, as they live locally (and they’re amazing!). This helps me as I’m trying to set up a business, alongside fulltime motherhood and various voluntary posts to assist women and families in East Kent (although statistically I’m either deemed unemployed or a homemaker).

Increasingly society is dependent on pensioners offering free childcare and even free care to their mentally or physically disabled spouse as they grow older. They are also relied on to provide much-needed voluntary support in the community. I still remember helping my grandmother in a charity shop when she was in her 70s years ago. And yet, over 65s are often not perceived as being capable of doing a job in a commercial environment. When my business is up and running, I hope to utilise skills from talented people based on their skills and enthusiasm - and not age.

An experiment for East Kent?
It strikes me that East Kent would be an interesting place to experiment with alternative working practices given its ageing population, the number of unemployed, the large number of further and higher educational establishments, the growth in start-ups and its regeneration agenda. It also has an interesting dynamic due to its vibrant creative community involving artists of all ages.

I'd love to know what the people of East Kent think.

And finally ...
This article was inspired by late night Tweeting between @escapetocreate and @Marcowhitspurs. Thanks both!

You can see Parts 1 and 2 of of BBC1s TV documentary The Town that Never Retired on BBC iplayer.

Coming soon: An article on Breastfeeding and Business in East Kent and EastKentMum's recommendation for families visiting the Whitstable Oyster Festival.


  1. I completely agree with you! I don't think that people over 65 are valued enough for what they do and could bring to our communities. A very sorry state of affairs and I hope that such an experiment takes place because changes need to happen. I dread to think that when I'm older i won't be able to find work. There should be more backing of volunteering too. So much organisations could use volunteers but have to jump through hoops to be able to get them in and then a lack of organisation can really hold back volunteers from making a difference.

    Good luck with your business! I too am endeavouring to be self employed! Lauren x

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful and considered reply I will check your website out.
    Good luck with your business too!