01 September 2010

An innovative scheme that aims to break boundaries between hundreds of older and young people in Northamptonshire has achieved the London 2012 Inspire Mark.

Last year, Northamptonshire was chosen as just one of only 12 counties to receive £400,000 government funding to run the scheme, called the School of Life, which helps older and young people to share their experiences and skills with each other.

The School of Life has now achieved the prestigious Inspire Mark award, which is awarded by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee.

The project has been recognised with the Inspire Mark because it demonstrates that through the creation of volunteering opportunities and contribution to community cohesion, the School of Life is genuinely inspired by the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship.

Councillor David Mackintosh, county council cabinet member for strategy, communications and external relations said: “Achieving this award is true recognition of the work the scheme is doing to actively promote volunteering and working with communities in the build up to the once in a lifetime event that will be the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The scheme encourages young and older people to work together, outside of their normal networks – for many people this takes courage and the preconceived ideas of the other generation need to be overcome but by sharing an experience or skills exchange, the different generations can be inspired by each other, therefore helping to them to respect each other more, in the true spirit of London 2012.”

Since being awarded the funding, Northamptonshire County Council has been delivering school of life projects in Northampton, South Northamptonshire and Wellingborough in partnership with the Northampton Volunteering Centre, Nene Valley Community Action and South Northants Volunteer Bureau.

School of Life aims to increase participation in volunteering and to create opportunities for the generations to share skills and to embed intergenerational work across the county. Young people up to the age of 25 and older people aged 50 and over are given the opportunity to create contacts and friendships outside of their normal networks. So far 512 volunteers have been successfully recruited to help deliver 57 projects.

School of Life runs until 31st March 2011 – and anyone who is inspired to volunteer and join the scheme is invited to contact either Anne Lovely or Gilly Tompkins on 01604 236688.