Media Release: Report calls for Scotland to unlock the potential of its ‘amazing greys’

SCOTLAND should consider its ageing population an asset rather than a liability and provide more support and encouragement to its ‘amazing greys’ – according to a report to be published tomorrow (Tuesday 15 December 2009) by The National Forum of Ageing (NFA) Futures Group.

The Group is funded by the Scottish Government and based at the Centre for the Older person’s Agenda (COPA) at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

Its inaugural event was attended by 70 participants representing business, the arts, public and voluntary sectors was held at Holyrood earlier this year and the resulting report has four recommendations.

Firstly, that positive role models and images of older people should be promoted throughout the media.

Secondly, that the benefits of employing older people should be promoted to encourage best practice.

Thirdly, that skills training for older people should be backed up with the necessary support to enable access and encourage participation.

And finally, that there should also be support for older people at risk of isolation to engage in creative activity and lifelong learning.

Commenting on the report business leader and Chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Sir Tom Farmer, who spoke at the inaugural event, said: “More needs to be done to create a climate of opinion about older people in Scotland that encourages and supports them to continue to live full and rewarding lives.

“Businesses can take the lead in this by looking creatively at working practices.

“There are ways of harnessing the experience older people can bring to the workplace to the benefit of bottom line and the wider economy and intergenerational teams should be the norm, not an oddity.

“We should also be empowering older people to get out there and do it for themselves by providing support and encouragement for aspiring entrepreneurs.”

The report is calling for cultural change rather than changes to legislation.

Many participants felt that choice, transition and flexibility were key to supporting older employees and that providing evidence that mirroring the market demographic in the workface pays would kick start the process of change.

Yvonne Coull, of the NFA Futures Group, who chaired the inaugural event, added: “When we talk about older people we are talking about everyone over 50, each with varying economic circumstances, skills, likes and dislikes.

“We are talking about at least three generations of individuals, often portrayed in media as a homogenous mass with grey hair and looking frail.

“The media has a significant part to play in changing perceptions of older people and the positive contribution they can make to society, but its certainly not the whole story.

“Our recommendations are just the starting point for discussion into unlocking – or unblocking – the potential of older people in Scotland.”


Issued by Maggie Wright Associates on behalf of the Centre for the Older Person’s Agenda (at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh) on behalf of the National Forum on Ageing Futures Group.

Editors notes

About The National Forum on Ageing Futures Group.

The National Forum on Ageing Futures Group was set up in April 2009 to continue the forward thinking underlying the report of the former Scottish Executive ‘All our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population’. It not only examines current issues but also engages in imaginative forward thinking in order to plan for a future which sets Scotland at the forefront of the age agenda.

The National Forum on Ageing Futures Group is funded by the Scottish Government.

The Futures Group is make up of the following organisations:

Membership includes older people who are independent members:

    • The Centre for the Older Person’s Agenda at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh  (Chair)
    • CSV/Retired and Senior Volunteers Programme
    • Centre for Life Long Learning at Strathclyde University
    • The Scottish Pre-Retirement Council
    • Stirling Volunteer Centre
    • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
    • Scotland’s Futures Forum
    • Age Concern & Help the Aged in Scotland

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