• Over 50's Fishing at Boggart Hole Clough
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Karen Kennedy takes a group of over 50's to Boggart Hole Clough to experience fishing for the first time.

Hello. Welcome to the winning hearts and Minds podcast. I'm your host, Chris Bernard. And on this week's show, you'll be hearing from Karen Kennedy talking about the first time for everything project aimed at the over fifties

Here's a snippet. What's the colour? I could just say No, I don't want to do it, but you've just got to keep so that the older you get Oh, I'm 60. I'm 70 now and I was a little bit reluctant, a man going to a ballet class

And I don't mind using my time because I'm retired now, so it's good for me as well. So these events just can lead to things and everybody's got a story, you know? So everyone's story is different. It's hard to put it into words, really get enjoyment out of it

It's a wonder we can't get into trouble. Something I had only met Karen Kennedy the week before at a chair based yoga session she ran as part of Mental Health Week. The high energy, straight talking but supportive approach got my attention straight away

Anyway, here's Karen. She can speak for herself, so my name is Karen Kennedy. I'm the activities coordinator for the Royal Voluntary Service

Our projects has been running now for four years, and it's called first time for everything, and it's aimed at the over 55. And it's trying to get older people to do things different than they usually do. So we've had a loads of different activities every month

So, for example, we've gone down the zip wire at Heaton Park. We've done ballet, Bollywood dancing, D I. Y course in heat and part

That was a few weeks ago. Today we're doing fishing at burger or cloth. We're going to Jubilee

We're going to be making a Jubilee Reef for people to use for their street parties were going to be doing croquet next month, singing because everybody can sing even though they think they can. Everybody can sing, so there's loads of different activities, and I'm also open to ideas. So instead of us telling the over 55 is what we're doing, I'm always asking them, you know, what is it you fancy doing? And if I can get older, the teacher will do it, and that's basically it's all free

We provide the refreshments and the fundings from the players of the people's postcode lottery. That's where we get our money here. Karen shares her views as to how the over fifties are seen by society

What I love about the first time for everything project is that older people aren't assumed that when you get to a certain age that you're going to want to go to a Dame. Vera Lynn, 19 forties Tea party with Hot Pot. Now I'm 61 this year, and I want to go to events that I like when I was younger and it wasn't Dame Vera Lynn

So in my day it was house music. It was dance music. So I'm interested in things like that, Um, and that's what I love about the first time for everything

Now talking about ageism, I've realised over this past year that the only people who are ageist are us. We're the ones that say, Oh, I'm 60. Oh, I'm 70 now

Oh, I make you know what I mean. You can't put an age on anything. It doesn't matter how old you are

Here's an example. When we did the treetop trek at Heaton Park and we were getting people to go down the zip, where there was an 82 year old with no hesitation, was up there and going down. That's it

Why? And she loved it now me. At the time I was about 55. There's no way I would have gone down there

So you cannot put an age on activities and things that you want to do. So what we need to do as older people is stop acting old and saying that we're old because by saying that we're old, we're telling our kids that we're telling our grandkids that Let's tell them that we're not old. Forget it

Don't even have the word strange. So I'm my rants over. I'm getting off my soapbox now

Well, it's nice to hear from Karen, but let's listen to some of the people who benefit from the great work that she does. My name is Lynn Leone, and I'm 69 nearly 70. I like meeting up with different people, and I enjoyed you in all the different things that Karen brings to us things that I'd never, ever think of doing

I know Karen because I used to work with them on, and also my grandparents lived next door, but once and my mother in law. So I've known her on enough over the years. And this just came up when I met him on one day and said, Why don't you come to Karen's group? So I started to come in

I think one of the first things are dead. It was trees, chopped tree top trek in Eton Park. When you go through the trees, onzick, wires and all that

I love it. I love it. I'll up sale or anything

I just enjoy doing things like that. I forced myself to do it. I could just say No, I don't want to do it

But you've just got to keep yourself active. The older you get, it's nice meeting different people and all these different things that she gets us doing. We've done ballet, We've done all sorts of things things

But I had never thought I'd do again. What I just I love the goal of anything. Now, Lynn tells me how she takes care of her physical and mental well being

I just carry on. I've had concert twice. I was in hospital

Nine days of Covid. Um, I've had a knee replacement This is all in seven years and just keep going, because if you don't know yourself, nobody is going to do anything for you and you need the support of friends as well. You meet different people in these groups and everybody's got a story, you know? So everyone's story is different, but you laugh and you cry and you just carry on just in case having to

I was in Blackpool two weeks ago with 32 women playing games on the beach with a fitness group that I go to and we had a lady with those 83 years of age who was running up and down Blackpool Beach playing all the games. You just got to take that out your mind. I'm getting older

I'm getting old. Makes no difference. How old

Yeah, people in young Children can't do some stuff, you know, if they've got disabilities. I have a grandson is artistic who can do things, but he doesn't do it, you know, on a regular basis, like so I think perhaps things like that have made me that bit more determined to carry on doing things. My granddaughter's just love it, What's mine and are doing now

Just do it, don't we? You just Well, I do. I've got friends, the same minded. We were walking around there, uh, in my field the other day

I sat on the banks of the river. This is floral women, you know, having a real good laugh. It's a wonder we don't get into trouble

Some plan? Uh huh. I think there's a lot of lonely people out there and they don't know what to say. And people think Wants to be calm over 55

That's it. They don't do anything. They just sit there

Life's not like that. You've got to get up and do things. You know, mental health is a terrible, terrible thing, and everybody suffers somewhere along the line with it

And it keeps a lot of people keep quiet about it, you know, And I think a lot of it. You've got to talk about it. It's not there now that it's wrong to talk about it

And I think there should be more groups for older people with mental health issues. It's all the younger people, and I feel so, so sorry for them. Well, I think there's a lot of older people as well, but need support with mental health

My name is Steve. I haven't fished since I left school 55 years ago, so I thought it would be really interesting thing. A beautiful, sunny day

Peace, beautiful location. Fish aren't biting, but, you know, it doesn't matter. I've been on a few of these events

Yes, a couple of drumming events, a mosaic, one ballet and I was a little bit reluctant, a man going to a ballet class. But it was great fun, really, really enjoyed it. And prior to that, we went to my wife and I went to a drama class, which was one of Karen's events at the Royal Exchange Theatre, and both my wife and I went on to join the eldest company at the Royal Exchange Theatre

And we've both appeared in a couple of productions, and next week we're actually putting on a monologue show as part of the liberal arts festival. So so these events just can lead to things, and that's something that's actually changed. Changed my life, both mine and my wife's

The biggest thing for me is I've always been a very shy person and I found that the drama classes brought me out myself gave me a level of self confidence I've never had before. And whereas previously, I would always be the guy that when someone is asking for someone to volunteer, to be interviewed or filmed or volunteer for something, I'd be the guy that took a step back. Whereas now I'm pushing people out the way to be at the front of the crowd

We have a go at things that we probably wouldn't get the opportunities to do otherwise. And it's a great thing to do as an individual and also as a collective. You make friends

Yeah, I've been talking today with people that I've met at a previous events at a drumming event and, uh, ballet, Um, and it's just a wonderful thing to be doing in the community. Well, my name is Mike Byrd emerged what they call the league coach. Not long past it, actually, to this

To me, it's doing something for the community, and I don't mind using much because I'm retired now, so it's good for me as well, you know, it's it's something I felt like payback for the community. I mean, also worked for an organisation called Tackling Out from Bolton, Not Bolton. Sorry, Burnley called Alfie array roles

Lads got PTSD and, well, you do national health groups. Gives them some purpose in life. You know, to me it helps people, especially with anxiety problems

It's hard to put it into words, really get enjoyment out of it by opening, you know? I mean, it's unintentional difference whether the disabled, as you can see, we've got people here. Well, they are bound whether the monthly ill Uh, yeah, that's one coming out. You're the one whether the mental health or but what? There's no barriers to what we do

The only thing is is how we do it. We do it a little bit different for certain people. They got to problems with disabilities

If you enjoyed listening to the show, then please subscribe to hear other episodes of the winning Hearts and Minds podcast. I've been your host, Chris Bernard and I look forward to sharing more stories with you in the future. Yeah, yeah,


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