Concern at the demise of groups aimed at the elderly

Kelso woman speak out v.1

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 11:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 11:34 am
Kelso's Abbey Row Community Centre.
Kelso's Abbey Row Community Centre.

A community stalwart in Kelso has expressed concern at the demise of many vital groups aimed at older people.

Retired biologist Isobel Gordon has for many years given talks on local history and medical matters around Kelso and beyond.

But she’s noticed a growing reluctance for people to participate in groups and a steep reduction in the numbers attending.

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Isobel Gordon.

She would regularly give around 20 talks a year, but so far this year she has only given two.

It is a trend accelerated by the pandemic, but one already beginning to develop before it.

Isabel, 84, organised a Thursday group at Kelso’s Abbey Row Community Centre, but that folded through a lack of people willing to help her out.

She understands that older people are cautious and reluctant to venture out again, but believes that human contact and interaction are vital to avoid social isolation.


She said: “One of my entertainments is giving talks all round the area on almost anything. When lockdown happened I had 13 talks immediately cancelled because nobody of course was going out and when they very occasionally returned membership had fallen steeply. At the last talk there were six in the audience, where there would normally be 20 to 30. People haven’t started going back and rejoining the groups.

“I don’t know whether we are afraid, I am much more cautious about where I go and what I’m doing, but groups have folded and an awful lot of older people are still worried about going into a group situation and I don’t know what we can do about that because we have all been vaccinated. I go to concerts and a lot of them are at Kelso’s old parish church which is huge, so it’s very easy to be separated, with every other pew cordoned off.

“Younger people, and I’m including those up to the age of 60, don’t seem to be joining groups in the way that us oldies did. I think it’s because there are many other things that they can do and I can see more groups folding and older people becoming more isolated.

“The other problem that I have noticed is that even within the groups that are reasonably successful, Kelso Music Society for example, the 50 to 60 year-olds approaching retirement, who were the core of these groups, are just not doing it. That feeling that you should give something back seems to have gone.

“I used to run the Thursday group in Kelso for retired females and eventually I found, and this folded before the pandemic, that I was doing everything myself.

“The  whole dynamic has changed in the last 15 years and I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t think it’s reversible.”