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Canley Switches On Over 50's

Over 50's in Canley are being encouraged to play more active roles as volunteers in their community as part of a drive for better government for older people.

Coventry has been selected by the Government as part of a national pilot scheme, Older Volunteers Initiative (OVI), which aims to use the skills and experience of the over 50's to tackle local issues from crime and safety to families and care.

The initiative is being administered by the Canley & Tile Hill Area Co-ordination Team and John Mason, a long-standing volunteer himself, has been appointed to run the project.

He said:

"Canley is a compact area with quite a large older population and new residents groups have recently been formed. There are already a number of ways the community uses the services of volunteers.

"I shall be contacting all the groups and organisations that could use older volunteers to let them know about this new initiative. I will also be leafleting the area to encourage more people to get involved.

"There is a wealth of untapped experience in our older population which can be channelled to help the community as a whole. Older people should never have to feel isolated or unwanted.

"There are life skills that older people can pass on to youngsters. Older people have fascinating stories of their own childhood and lives to tell schoolchildren who might want to compile an oral history of their neighbourhood.

"The new Credit Union will also need volunteers to help run it and sometimes the very elderly and the housebound need something as simple as a lift in order to get out to socialise.

"It is my job to find out from the community where volunteers can be of help and then find the over 50's whose interests and activities match up. Hopefully I can bring them together for the good of the community as a whole."

Bret Willers, Area Co-ordinator for the South West, said both young and old would benefit.

"The Older Volunteers Initiative is a great way for the over 50s to meet new people and get more involved in their community, whether helping young or old people. It is an ideal way of bridging the generation gap for the good of everyone."

OVI has also won the backing of Coventry City Council Cabinet Member (Service Co-ordination) Councillor Phil Townshend, who said:

"There seems a perception that once you reach 50 you have nothing to contribute to society, but age brings great advantages in terms of knowledge and experience.

"I really hope people come forward to volunteer so that the scheme work well and maybe then it could be extended to other areas."

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