Researchers at Lancaster University are planning to train local retired people to contribute towards an ambitious national research project.
The departments of applied social science and continuing education are preparing to run a research methods course for anyone aged 60 or over living in or around Lancaster. The organisers hope to prove that older people can carry out high-quality research on important social issues if they have sufficient training and support.
Apart from the age criteria there are no entry requirements and no prior knowledge will be assumed. It is hoped recruits will work on research on the housing needs of older people.
Mary Leamy, senior research associate at Lancaster, said the course had been designed to recognise students' life and work experiences and to combine this with professional research knowledge.
She said that because the course was being subsidised by research funds, students would receive their training at a discounted rate. And as they will be paid for face-to-face interviews as part of the course, they would be able to recoup the fee and be in profit at the end of the course.
Besides intellectual and personal rewards, Ms Leamy said the qualification would prepare students for employment on other projects that might arise as the government's aspirations to consult older people are implemented.