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Push to keep West Norfolk brains active for longer

Push to keep West Norfolk brains active for longer

Published by KLFM
1:00pm 12th March 2020.

Norfolk County Council is behind a new campaign called ‘Still Young Enough To…’ aiming to keep minds active in their later years.

Many people in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk have told the council they want to stay living independently for as long as possible without relying on care services.

Councillor Bill Borrett explained more about the campaign:

“It’s all about encouraging Norfolk residents to be proud of their later years.

“By staying healthy, active and involved they can enjoy fulfilling lives for longer.

“We also want to point people to the wealth of activities available in Norfolk to support healthy ageing.”

Some key ways to keep the brain active:

  •         Learning a new language
  •         Picking up a new skill
  •         Keeping hobbies up
  •         Volunteering
Linda Webb
Linda Webb receives support from her silversmithing tutor and enjoys the social aspect of group learning.

Linda Webb started to learn silversmithing through the County Council’s Adult Learning service, despite poor eyesight and health issues:

“I’m so inspired with the craft, I’ve now got a workshop at home – I’m really proud that I’ve learnt a skill which means I can make something precious.”

KL.FM spoke to Alan Hopley, CEO of Voluntary Norfolk, who has seen first hand the mental benefits volunteering has had on members of the community:

“It just tackles a lot of issues we see every day in terms of people being isolated, lonely – wellbeing is affected.

“Being active really helps to give purpose and improvement in quality of life, which is so important as you get older.”

Retired teacher Kim Russell volunteers running Bounce and Rhyme sessions in her local library:

“I absolutely love my role and it gives me such a great sense of achievement – I feel that I’m part of the community and it’s wonderful seeing so many familiar faces on the high street.

Kim Russell
Kim Russell has been volunteering since 2015 and feels a sense of achievement watching the little ones develop - and enjoys meeting their parents and carers.

Alan Hopley thinks there can be some barriers which may prevent those in their later years from giving new things a go:

“Sometimes it's being scared to learn something new, or they think being older they can't learn - well that's absolute rubbish!  

“We provide support for older people learning digital and actually we find people can grasp and can learn!

“We make sure that whatever age, those learning opportunities are there.

“We can take the time necessary, but what we want is for people of any age to learn new skills and knowledge because it improves their quality of life."

Richard Rackstraw
Richard Rackstraw was an electrician before he retired, and has now been volunteering on the farm for 15 years.

Richard Rackstraw volunteers on a farm – and had no countryside experience when he started:

“Every day is different – it’s so rewarding…volunteering gives me a real sense of inclusion and usefulness.

“It’s allowed me to remain in the workplace and put my mental dexterity to the test.”

“I know some people might feel a bit nervous to try volunteering, but you’ll be welcomed with open arms!"

Adriaan Kraaijestein
Adriaan Kraaijestein has learnt skills like hedge laying, horse grooming and charcoal making through his time volunteering.

Adriaan Kraaijestein is a landscape and farming volunteer too:

“I didn’t do much for the first two years of retirement, and that was tough as I really missed the interaction with people that I’d experienced all my working life.

“Volunteering has helped me keep in touch and opened up a whole new world for me.”

Alan Hopley told KL.FM there are also social benefits, as friendships and relationships can be harder to find when you’re older.

“We make sure the volunteer role suits that individual person - and we make sure that role is something they're going to enjoy and are able to do - and we'll provide support and training.  

“It can involve anything from working in a charity shop, providing support to carers, giving support to the National Trust, support for arts festivals and music  festivals - a whole range of different activities that they can get involved in. 

“It gives people structure in their lives, it gives people opportunities to meet other people, and feel they're doing something really positive.

“They feel valued, respected and meet other people.

“At the end of last year, I was priveleged to celebrate with a 94 year old volunteer and give him a cake and say well done and thank you - he's still volunteering because he says it makes him feel younger and he enjoys doing it."

To view volunteering opportunities, you can visit the Volunteer Norfolk website HERE and choose your locality – such as King’s Lynn.