Silver Sharing Initiative: Multiculturalism, chances of active ageing

Thursday, May 29, 2014

For many years now, the Federation of Social Organisations of Warmia-Mazury Region (FOSa) has been implementing measures to raise standards of the elderly’s life. Our federation consists of several dozen senior citizen organizations. We develop social programs which aim at the improvement of the quality of life of the elderly. Our solutions stand out for the high level of senior citizen participation, in line with the ‘nothing about us without us’ principle, which simultaneously ensures a flexible and systemic method. We look for new solutions, yet well-tried by other institutions, which we implement and evaluate in order to streamline and verify our actions. Senior Citizen Ombudsman’s Office and Friendly Neighbor are the best examples of the above.

FOSa strives to meet the expectations of senior citizens and offers an original method – Silver Sharing Initiative. It is focused on the development of active aging in three areas – social participation, education and tourism. It becomes part of a new trend in social development and tourism that bases upon available resources. For many years now, there have been a number of popular tourist solutions implemented internationally, i.e. home exchange or coach surfing, youth tourism and school exchange in particular. It was them to inspire us to come up with a similar method made for senior citizens, i.e. Silver Sharing Initiative. While looking for offers or ideas tailored to the elderly and their specific needs, we concluded there was no solution, at least in Europe, to facilitate general tourism of the elderly. Hence, we decided to propose our own method, flexible and tailored to the needs of the elderly.

Silver Sharing Initiative?! A response to the increasing tourism of senior citizens. Enabling the elderly to pursue tourist activity that induces self-development and builds up social capital.

Silver Sharing is based upon cooperation of two (or more) senior citizen organizations from different regions/countries. Each one delegates a group of people to pay a visit to a partner organization, whose members provide accommodation, either in private premises or hostels, let the guests explore the area and participate in scheduled cultural programs. Silver Sharing Initiative determines and regulates the frames of every visit in a comprehensible way. Taking up cooperation under Silver Sharing, an organization receives a packet of useful information, including preliminary agreements and a practical guide to the method and its implementation.

The method is based upon three pillars:

  1.  Social capital

Cooperation of social organizations, i.e. senior citizen clubs, Universities of the Third Age, etc, is where it all begins. It is them to decide to cooperate and take responsibility, appoint and delegate hosts and guests, draw up agendas of the visits. It is them to guarantee stability of cooperation in years to come, not only  of further elderly exchanges but also joint initiatives, e.g. projects, art events, etc. Thanks to their commitment, the contacts may last and develop. The organizations also guarantee social activity of the elderly.

  1.  Education

Silver Sharing is meant to provide a basis for knowledge acquisition, rudiments of cultural anthropology via direct correlation with a seemingly different culture, language, history, etc. As a consequence, however, Silver Sharing is nothing but openness to others, learning their environment and uncovering our own. The education process is multi-level. It comprises culture, foreign languages, etc.

Individuality is of great important here, too. It motivates to take up challenges, go to another region, country, meet new people and their cultures. They all account for a big change in life. One that can motivate to undertake more trips, learning, and consequently, activities. It is also vital for building social ties and trust which counts when meeting a stranger.

  1.  Tourist activity

A great number of barriers must be overcome to enable the elderly to pursue tourist activity, especially those who have hitherto rarely benefited from it. Silver Sharing provides opportunity to travel both to people who have so far been inactive as well as well-experienced globetrotters. It also shows tourism is about much more than sightseeing or relaxation. It can give new perception, new acquaintances – and a contact with another person is of high value among the active elderly, indeed.



We are looking for social organizations willing to cooperate. You can contact us under: