Local silver surfers gain awards

Older learners benefit from centre’s Euro vision


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Some of the learners receiving their certificates from Cllr Dame Sally Powell (third from left), accompanied by course tutor Sally Marshall (far right)

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Sixty ‘silver surfers’ from West London have been honoured for gaining new IT skills at a ceremony attended by representatives from four European countries, all visiting Britain to learn how their success has been achieved.

The sixty learners, who have completed nationally recognised computer courses at Third Age Foundation, a skills and learning centre for the over 40s, gathered at the Irish Centre in Hammersmith to receive certificates from Cllr Dame Sally Powell, Hammersmith & Fulham’s cabinet member for regeneration, and the London Learning & Skills Council’s Neill Scott, in the presence of fact-finding groups from Germany, Sweden, Austria and France.

The European groups were there as trans-national partners of Third Age Foundation, which is taking part in the EU project Grundtvig 2. Under the heading ‘Second Chance Working Winners’, Grundtvig encourages organisations involved in lifelong learning to observe their European counterparts and pick up ideas on the most effective ways to help adults gain skills and, ultimately, employment.

Says Sylvia Francis, director of Third Age Foundation, “We’re delighted that our European partners could be here to see these learners collecting their graduation certificates. Just as we have learnt a great deal from visiting organisations in Europe and seeing how they work, so I hope they will learn from us, particularly from our emphasis on building each learner’s self-confidence and self-esteem as well as helping them gain new skills.”

Abdulla Younis, 67, from West Kensington, turned to Third Age Foundation after deciding to write a book. He said, “As a retired psychiatrist I wanted to become computer literate so I could write about my experiences and my ideas, so I enrolled at Third Age Foundation and now I’m on my third course. The teachers are their real asset; they go round to each person in the class, helping them with their problems and encouraging them to keep going – it’s almost like one-to-one tuition – and there’s a real family atmosphere in class.”

Third Age Foundation is located at Britannia House, Glenthorne Road, Hammersmith. It offers a range of holistic courses including ICT training (from basic skills right up to OCR Level III) and personal development support (featuring neuro-linguistic programming) for people aged 40 and over. In October 2002 it published a report entitled ‘Past it at 40?’ which highlighted the discrimination faced by older workers in the job market.

Cllr Dame Sally Powell says: “I’m very pleased to be able to present these certificates and congratulate these learners on their new, employable skills. Third Age Foundation continues to find innovative, effective methods of supporting older people, so that they can look to the future with confidence. It is a tribute to the centre’s success that it is now spreading its ideas and influence across Europe, through the Grundtvig project.”

June 6, 2005