Fab Weld 50+ Summary Report

The Fab Weld 50+ project was funded as part of Brightlife’s ‘Bright Ideas’ strand. This fund encouraged local groups, voluntary organisations and businesses to come forward with ideas to reduce isolation and loneliness for older people within areas or communities of interest.

Fab Weld 50+ was delivered over 15 months by The Welding Academy, a commercial training provider based in Cheshire, with an award of £19,905.

Key learning

  • Engaging delivery partners from outside the third sector can bring valuable innovation to project design, enable older people to integrate with their wider community more easily, and promote messages to other local businesses.
  • Enabling older people to pass skills on to younger people can be a useful tool for participant engagement, as well as helping to promote the existence, diversity and intrinsic value of older people within a wider community.
  • Fee-paying sustainability models can work well for projects where the service or activity is valued highly by participants.

 

Development and delivery

The Fab Weld 50+ project enabled retired older people to learn and work alongside others by participating in group training courses in welding and fabrication techniques.

Recruitment of participants was initially slow; the project team suggested that this may have been a result of the concept being quite new within the local area. Once the project was up and running and its reputation better established, participants became easier to engage.

Many participants were retired engineers, who reported finding retirement difficult as they missed the social aspect of employment and the opportunity to work as a team. Others were complete beginners who were interested in making practical objects or art, or were just keen to try something different.

The training courses were initially delivered in 7-week blocks, but this was later extended to allow individuals to use the techniques they had learned to develop their own projects. The costs of the extra time were covered by using recycled materials and recruiting more volunteers.

In response to demand from participants, delivery was also amended to include a wider variety of sessions, with some focused on engineering techniques and others on metal sculpture/art.

 

Impact and Legacy

In total, 36 older people were engaged through the Fab Weld 50+ project. Although the target number of participants (60) was not reached, the retention and engagement of participants who did attend during the project/activity delivery period was excellent.

Feedback from participants suggested that they valued the opportunity to pass on skills and knowledge to younger apprentices and learners at The Welding Academy, with some participants going on to become volunteers to support those at the start of their working life.

Leisure courses for over-50s have continued to be offered by The Welding Academy beyond the end of the Fab Weld 50+ project. Delivery of these courses will be funded through a small per-participant fee (introduced following consultation with existing participants), with costs kept to a minimum by the sourcing of donations of materials and resources from local businesses.

As a result of delivering the Fab Weld 50+ project, The Welding Academy has developed strong relationships with a number of other Brightlife delivery partners, including Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Age UK Cheshire, with whom it has continued to share resources and opportunities.

The Welding Academy has also signed the ‘Age-friendly Pledge’, a commitment to uphold a set of values and policies to ensure that the company remains an age-friendly organisation, and has begun the process of setting up a CIC to access more funding streams for community projects.

“Working with Brightlife has allowed us to further value the experience and skills that

over-50s can bring to our company.”

The Welding Academy