I recently attended an elderly forum in Foxbar, Paisley and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the senior citizens in my community. Before going along to this forum, I felt quite apprehensive as I did not know what to expect however I was surprised at how much the elderly people seemed to warm to my presence and enjoyed telling me about what the forum means to them.
There are approximately fifty members who meet up every Monday between 1:30pm and 3:30pm. The forum has been running for thirty-five years and is funded from council grants. Within this forum there are committee members who are responsible for the groups finances and social outings. They also hold monthly meetings with all members in order to keep everybody informed and this allows individuals to have their say and believe they are valued. Elderly people have knowledge and expertise which is very valid and it is essential that they are involved in making decisions which affect them (Age UK, 2007).
Every week at the forum the elderly people enjoy tea and biscuits whilst socialising with others. The members take part in a variety of social events such as going on day trips to Ayr and Prestwick as well as celebrating all occasions by throwing their own parties. This keeps the elderly active and gives them something to look forward too. They often play bingo which everybody really likes as it brings out their competitive sides. There are also guest speakers who come along and deliver presentations on how to save money on bills for example and this is very beneficial for many.
When I was at the forum there was a guest speaker who came in to deliver an input about community alarms that will help the elderly to stay safe. I found this very interesting and this highlighted to me that the community want to best support the elderly. I had discussions with various members of the forum whilst they enjoyed their tea and during this time I gained a real insight into the purpose of this forum and the importance of it too. The forum helps to bring people together and encourages them to still be part of their community. I was surprised at how much this forum means to the senior citizens as it not only gives them a platform to share their expertise but for many it is a reason to leave the comfort of their own homes and interact with others. Without this forum, many people would feel isolated and this is supported by Age UK (2007) which states that forums help to tackle loneliness.
I have a personal connection to this forum as my gran has been attending for eight years now and it was great to see how much the forum helps her. My gran recently became a widow and the NHS (n.d.) states that the death of a loved one can result in a significant decline in an individual’s well-being. However, I believe that the forum has been such a support to her during this difficult time and has motivated her to keep going.
I also learned that the forum has a connection to a local high school and I think that this is great as it shows that the elderly are being encouraged to be a part of the wider community and are not being excluded. The senior citizens are invited to go along to events such as school concerts and pupils from the high school also attend the forum from time to time. I think this is fantastic as it brings the elderly and young people together and encourages them to interact. As a teacher, this is definitely something that I will encourage as I think that both the elderly and children can benefit from socialising with one another.
During my time at the forum I further developed in my communication skills through interacting with elderly people. This was out of my comfort zone however this has helped me to gain more confidence in myself and this will help me as a teacher as I will come into contact with a range of different professionals and agencies. This is supported by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) who state that teachers must be able to work with various members within the education system.
Another skill I believe I have further developed in is my critical thinking skills as I was able to consider the importance of this forum as well as being able to think about the benefits that it brings to the elderly people and the wider community too. Being a critical thinker is a key graduate attribute which will help me throughout my time at university and as a teacher.
I believe there was a connection between my experience at the forum and topics that have been covered during the sustainable development module. For example, I think this experience allowed me to witness diversity and the need to include everyone. Everyone is welcome at the forum and all views are respected. My experience at the forum allowed me to gain an understanding of interdependence as after discussions with individual’s it became clear to me that many members depend on the forum as a place where they can go and socialise and be part of the wider community.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the forum and believe I gained a wealth of knowledge on the importance of forums for the elderly and how they motivate senior citizens to be involved in the wider community.
Age UK. (2007) Are you listening? [Online] Available: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/active-communities/are_you_listening_interactive.pdf[Accessed: 25 November 2019]
General Teaching Council for Scotland. (2012) The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland [Online] Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/standards-for-registration-1212.pdf[Accessed: 25 November 2019]
NHS. (n.d.) Loneliness in older people [Online] Available: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/loneliness-in-older-people/[Accessed: 25 November 2019]