You’ve heard of NEETs – what about NIPPERs?

I dislike the acronym NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) for two reasons – firstly it de-humanises young people when they probably most need to be valued and secondly, the people who use it tend to assume the rest of us know what it means!

Well, with tongue a little bit in cheek, I’d like to introduce you to NIPPERs – men who are Not In Permanent Paid Employment or Retired.

Bishops Castle March 2012 009I’m talking about men aged 50+ – an age group defined as ‘older’ by policy-makers but in reality these are people who are just getting into their stride. And, of course, you probably know people who are years younger but ‘act old’. Interestingly, there’s research in Finland suggesting that 51 (yes – that precise) is the age at which our ‘work ability’ changes.

A NIPPER getting into his stride >>>

The NIPPERs who have most to gain from The Repair Shed I’m developing in Hemel Hempstead (details elsewhere on this site) may be getting over difficulties associated with bereavement, unemployment, retirement, divorce, estrangement from family, moving to a new home. But it’s also about prevention as well as cure.

‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing’                         George Bernard Shaw

NIPPERs still have a love of life, or maybe they’re trying re-gain it. We know from the New Economics (NEF) ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ research how keeping learning and being active is important NIPPERs like doing things with their hands as well as their heads – making, mending, learning – and having fun.

We also know from NEF about the importance of being connected and in control. For myself, I’m hoping that NIPPERs will want to be part of a Repair Shed led by the men themselves. I have a vision of a place where like-minded men will eagerly work together in a spirit of mutual respect and friendship. Will this happen? Who knows.

In the meantime, I might try out the term NIPPER on would-be members of The Repair Shed. That generation might like to be associated with the idea of a nipper – wily, streetwise, energetic, open-minded and eager to learn. I’ll let you know what they say, and do let me know what you think.

And if you know of a NIPPER in south west Herts (it could be you?) who would like to know more about The Repair Shed, send them to me Chris Lee


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