Learning Age Project

The project will run for 5 years and will engage up to 5,000 of the most disadvantaged older people in classes designed to meet their needs. Courses currently on offer include computers, arts and crafts, personal development and reminiscence. New courses being developed include planning for retirement, money management in older age and re-skilling for work in later life. The project is supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies.


Renowned local actress, and older learner herself, Olivia Nash (Ma from Give My Head Peace), helped to launch the WEA’s Learning Age project in the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry/Londonderry on 12th November. Olivia coached some talented local older people to perform a dramatic piece illustrating the benefits of learning. We were also delighted to have Derry City Council’s Deputy Mayor, Maurice Devenney, present.

Colin Neilands, WEA Director, explains the importance of the Learning Age Project:

"We have been involved in researching the benefits of learning in later life for some time now. Bringing together academic research and our experience of working with older people across Northern Ireland, we believe that taking part in learning can help reduce isolation, keep the body active, stimulate the mind, pass on new skills and even contribute to better health.

Current government policy concentrates almost exclusively on young people which has unfortunately meant that there are fewer and fewer opportunities for older people to take part in affordable and suitable learning. Through this project, the WEA will directly address the lack of educational opportunities available by providing a programme of learning designed with older people in mind.”

The project’s aims are:

  • To run a programme of courses tailored to the needs and interests of older people

  • To contribute to a self-help learning culture where older people take control of their learning

  • To measure and evaluate the positive impact that learning has in later life

  • To lobby for mainstream support of later life learning.

LAP developed out of a previous pilot project known as Older People Learning. If would like more information about the project please contact Carolyn Hale (Belfast) 9032 9718  or Sinead Devine (Derry/Londonderry) 7136 9947 


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