Take Action award - the sky's the limit

Last year, Kathleen Carter from Stockton in Teeside won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation Take Action Award 2011, sponsored by Age UK. The award celebrates people in later life who are campaigning to improve society at a community, national or international level.

Kathleen talks about how she got involved and what campaigning means to her.

Kathleen Carter

How did you get involved in campaigning?

Thrive Stockton is campaigning against high-interest ‘rent-to-own’ lenders. I got involved because I had personal experience of the impact that these lenders can have.

I try to spread the word about these high-interest lenders, so that other people don’t get into the kind of financial difficulties we did. I’ve also spoken at quite a few public meetings.

I never thought I could do anything like that, and was terrified about the idea of doing it, but I’ve really enjoyed it.

Do you think it is important for people in later life to get involved in campaigning?

Yes, definitely. We have so much life experience that I think we have a lot to contribute. Campaigning is all about having ideas about how things can be better, and saying ‘this isn’t fair’ or ‘things could be like this’. People in later life have got lots of wisdom about how to make this a better, fairer world, and I’d say to anyone who cares about things to get campaigning on something!

People are prepared to listen to me as a campaigner partly because I’m older. They see that I’ve got valid things to say. I’ve now got more confidence in my own opinions.

How did it feel to win the Take Action Award for your campaigning work?

It felt fantastic! It was so lovely to get recognition for what I was doing. I’ve never won anything before, so it was such a fantastic boost to my confidence. Going up on stage and getting an award was so much fun.

What has winning the award involved?

The awards ceremony was just the start of it. After that, I was assigned a campaign coach, who I meet with regularly to help me learn about how to be a better campaigner. I also went away on a residential weekend six other campaigners. We learned lots from each other and all the brilliant speakers that talked to us about different aspects of campaigning.

What’s next for you?

Winning the award was such a boost to my confidence, and I want to get involved in other campaigns too. I’m now trying to help local taxi drivers in Stockton, who need better facilities in the town centre.

A year or two ago I never would have thought I would get such a new lease of life. I feel like the sky’s the limit.

Could you be this year's winner?

Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Take Action award. If you are campaigner aged 60 or over and think you would benefit from the kind of support the award offers, or you know someone else who would, opens link in new window visit the Sheila McKechnie Foundation website to apply now

The winner of the award will receive a flexible programme of support over 6 months which will help develop their campaigning skills.

You can apply yourself, or if you know someone else who might benefit from the award, you can nominate them. It takes less than two minutes!

The deadline for applications is 1pm on 18 June.

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