I Am Not Your Mate

 

I am not your mate” is a Nigerian slang meaning  “I am not your age mate, I am older . . .”

“I am not your mate” is a portrait and storytelling project/series focused on 26 Senior Citizens based in London. The series documents their lives, experiences, dreams and fears. The 26 senior citizens are from different backgrounds and ethnicities.

London is a multicultural city and more than 270 nationalities make up the fabric of the city. London is one of the most linguistically diverse city in the world.

“I am not your mate” project was documented by Chin We, a visual artist based in London.

In Chin We’s words . . .  “I am really passionate about representation and senior citizens are so underestimated! They are full of wisdom, experience and we can learn so much from them. We are missing opportunities to learn from the knowledge gained over decades. Older people are a source of wise words and sage advice on dealing with and enjoying life to its fullest. In the words of Victor Hugo  “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in old age”  . . . The 26 Senior Citizens  have really helped to shape the project a lot more than I’d initially thought. The overall idea stemmed from me being inspired by senior citizens in society and wanting to hear their various stories whilst capturing them”

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Rasmika. I am 60 years old. I am a retired College Lecturer. My sexual orientation is heterosexual. I worked as a college lecturer for over 20 years. At the age of 50, I trained and pursued my work as a life coach helping people from all works of life to bring positive change into their life. Needless to say, it rewarded me with positive changes into my own life

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
After multiple miscarriages, I was told the chances of me conceiving a child were very difficult. With time, some medical intervention and my husband’s emotional support I gave birth to my son in August 1991. He is truly a ‘miracle of love’ for us as his parents. It was a unique experience to carry another life in my body for 9 months. Today, 27 years since he was born whenever I see him or hear his voice on the phone, my stomach dances with same joy like the first time I set my eyes on him. For me, motherhood is the unique and beautiful experience of my life

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My goal is to enjoy life in all its form – happy, happy, happy. To achieve that I have a Health and Well Being goal to keep me fit and well mentally and physically. Equally important goal is to give back to society, offer ‘seva’(i.e. selfless service to others without expecting a reward) and to take time to grow spiritually

What do you like about your age?
I have become selective about the people who I want to associate/socialise with. And I am very forthcoming in disassociating with people who continuously bring negativity. Its quite liberating to free myself from false guilt or shame. I am more loyal to my innate self and my feelings

What is your biggest fear?
Don’t know so I am not seeking for an answer. it is obviously NOT important to me at this stage in my life

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Everything happens for a reason. Give without expecting anything in return. For every situation you face remember to ask “what is your accountability and responsibility in this situation

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Amina. I am 62 years old. I am an Activitist. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
There are many bits in my life. The first one was when I came to England from South Africa at the age of 8 years. So when you come from an apartheid state to a country that my father told me was democratic. It makes you realise that society can be different and people can be different

What are your goals/dreams in life?
I want to change the world and I will fight for it. I am an Internationalist. I fight inequality, oppression, discrimination and climate disaster. 8% of the people from the Global North are causing the climate disaster

What do you like about your age?
In my family we don’t think of ourselves as old. I don’t think of age. To be honest, I’m active. I have health problems but those are chronic health problems not to do with age. But despite that, I am just an Activist. I work with all age groups from very young people to older people.

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is what is happening now in the world. I think we are reaching a big huge historical moment when you’ve got the very well organised, very well funded far right fascists globally who are also climate change deniers, and the implication of that for ordinary people around the world is terrifying from India’s Modi to the Philippines to Trump’s America to Bolsonaro in Brazil.

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Human beings are social beings. We should be working together as a collective to help each other in every sense – mental, physical and social well being. Humans have the capacity to be good. We are not naturally bad which some people say we are. I think we have the capacity to do good things and that we should try to build that and encourage people to have hope.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Mike. I am 70 years old. I am Retired but I have some voluntary involvement in charities and voluntary organistaion. My sexual orientation is heterosexual.

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
It would have to be travelling. I have done a lot of travelling in my life and I think going to South America in the 1970s is the most unique experience of my life. It was a great experience. It was a road trip, me and my wife travelled in a little Volkswagen bettle from New York to Bolivia.

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My goal is to make some positive difference to some of the major problems in the society. I am very involved with the refugee organisation, apart from being hardwork it gives me great pleasure, My dream is to be a good jazz guitarist, I have a way to go but have been working on it for the last 55 years. I am getting there slowly! Another goal will be to be respectable of people.

What do you like about your age?
Not working. I’m now having the time to do all those things I couldn’t do when I was working a proper full time job. So like practicing my guitar, reading lots of books and travelling – the 3 big things I wasn’t doing enough of when I was working. At the age of 70, I like the fact that I have retired. I am forever grateful when I wake up early in the morning and think “I don’t have to get out of bed”

What is your biggest fear?
Probably loosing one of my senses – hearing and eye sight. The idea of not having any of those is terrifying. I think the loss of hearing is the most terrifying because I am a musician, so those are personal fears. My biggest fear in the big wild world are Brexit, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.

What do you think is the most important life principle?
To be respectable of other people’s understanding and difference

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Marian. I am 90 years old. I am a Retired Teacher. My sexual orientation is heterosexual.

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Having the babies was the most unique experience of my life. When the first child came in the hospital, she opened her eyes and looked at me, I looked at her and I felt that a miracle had happened, this was nothing to do with what my husband and I did 9 months ago, this was a miracle that happened and I loved her to bits

What are your goals/dreams in life?
To continue learning, reading, doing my puzzles and continue walking. I love walking in the countryside, if you take it away from me I should be very very unhappy. Also to continue with my swimming, I love my swimming. I’m a very happy person.

What do you like about your age?
I love being on my own. I was brought up in a big family. I never had my own space. I never had my own toys or clothes. I always had clothes that my sisters had worn before me.

What is the biggest fear?
I think I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been really lucky. I look after myself, I know what to eat and I exercise. My eyesight has been very good but it began to deteriorate 2 years ago and the cataracts has come, that is age and I can’t really turn the clock back. If I ever loose my sight, I don’t know how I would live. The hearing is not so bad but the sight is very important to me.

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Confidence in yourself in who you are and what you want to be. Have the confidence to do it because girls/women were not given much confidence because the men had this supremacy all the time. I have to say again, having the confidence, knowing and being happy with what you are, not trying to be something else that you are not, confidence in yourself and worth.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Jennifer. I am 63 years old. I am a Midwife. My sexual orientation is heterosexual.

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
Defintely being a Mother. Motherhood came to me late. I was 40 years when I had a baby. So in that time I had done a lot of things in life – career and travelling. Motherhood was always what I wanted and eventually I got it, I enjoy every minute of it.

What are your goals/dreams in life?
To remain self reliant and independent. Being independent is important to me. I don’t depend on anyone and I’ve learnt that since I was a child. Growing up especially being a female and in a family as a woman, you have to be strong and look after yourself. Self confidence can prevent you being taken advantage of.

What do you like about your age?
I have learnt from life experiences, my own experience and other’s experience. I have learnt from mistakes I’ve probably made while I was very young, I wouldn’t make now because I know the consequences of them.

What is your biggest fear?
ill health, reliance and dependency on others. I wouldn’t like to be ill and being dependent on anyone. I would love to look after myself right till the end. And also having my own money so I can look after myself.

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Self confidence and strive to be happy. You get on better in life if you’ve got confidence in yourself. If you’re confidence in yourself, no one can really hopefully take advantage.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Dawn Hill CBE. I am 80 years old. My profession is in Organisation Management, Human Resources and Industrial Relations. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
There are several unique experiences in my life and I have done so many different things. I think one of the most unique experiences was when I was a student at the London School of Economics and they sent me to do a summer job at Liverpool Road in a community centre, that was really quite an experience because for the first time I had some experience of people who were not as lucky as I was in their life experience. Another unique experience was travelling to Africa with my husband to be . Another one was receiving my CBE at Buckingham Palace from Prince Charles.

What are you goals/dreams in life?
My goal has been to earn enough money to have a very good retirement. I never seem to be retiring but I still dream to not having to do too much because my work with Black Cultural Archives has gone on for 30 years and I now think that it is time that younger people the age that I was when I started assisting at BCA took over

What do you like about your age?
When I think how old I am, I can’t imagine how I got to the age because I certainly don’t feel that age. I just carry on as if I am 40 years but obviously the age is caught up with me. I don’t do things as quickly as I would normally have done. I am not sure if it is anything to like but it hasn’t deterred me from doing all the things that I wanted to do.

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is not being able to get around . I just really worry about it. And in the last few months that has caused me a problem but I intend to get over it.

What do you think is the most important life principle?
I think in life, you have to be very clear what you do with your time then you should focus on it, concentrate and get it done. You should do what you say you are going to do. you shouldn’t let people down. If you are going to do something make sure you do it. Concentrate and focus on it.

 

Name, Age, profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Ratan. I am 65 years old. I am a Retired Bank Clerk with HSBC. My sexual orientation is heterosexual.

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life is bringing up my children and my grandchildren. I have 5 grandchildren.

What are your goals/dreams in life?
I want to travel a lot but I am not getting the opportunity because I am looking after the grand children. We got to see the time when we can go out and when we can’t because 5 days a week we are looking after the grandchildren so we have to arrange holidays with them. I really really want to move to India and spend longer time there. I would love to spend 6 months in India and 6 months in the UK but my husband doesn’t want to do that. He won’t spend anymore than 3 wks in India.

What do you like about your age?
I am very active. I got a lot of things that I do. If I don’t have that I think I will just sit in bed and lay there. I always got things to do. We always have visitors from New Zealand. We have families from South Africa as well so they come and visit and they always stay with us. I am always on the go. Being busy makes me active and the grandchildren keeps me active which is good because if I didn’t have that I think the arthritis will overtake.

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is not being able to walk when I get older, getting Alzheimer and forgetting stuff. This is really fearful because my mum had dementia and I know what that was like. And my niece, her husband is young and got Alzheimer, he doesn’t recognise her or the children now. He was 45 yrs when he had Alzheimer. He’s had it for 14 yrs and my niece nurses him. Dementia frightens me, that’s the most fear and I want to be able to know my family, I also want to be able to do my own hygiene

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Be happy and try to understand people even though they might annoy you at the time. Be understanding, be happy and try and do what you want to do in life as well and not always do what other people expect you to do. Remember to have time for yourself, self care is very important

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Habeeba. I am 74 years old. My sexual orientation is heterosexual. I was a teacher in Sri-Lanka till I came to the UK and got married. I didn’t go back to school to acquire an English qualification to continue with my teaching profession. I wish I had the chance but having children and all, so I became a full time house wife. I have been widowed for 7 years now. My late husband was a Radiologist and he died of dementia

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life was leaving my parents in Sri Lanka to come over to the UK to meet my husband. We knew each other in Sri Lanka before he moved to the UK. It was a sad and happy experience for me and my parents as I am the only child of my parents. I got married on my own in the UK

What are your goals/dreams in life?
If I can live for another 10 years, I would be very happy. I want to see my grandchildren grow. I do feel aches and pains sometimes but I want to be healthy and active till I die

What do you like about your age?
I do whatever I like. I am happy. Seeing my children and grandchildren grow and travelling with my friends

What is your biggest fear?
I am scared of not doing things on my own when I get older. I’ve told my daughter if I can’t do things on my own that she should put me in a nursing home. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Helping people in need. going out of your way to help people. Be nice to people, you are not loosing anything by talking to people and remember to smile. Be honest!

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Benny. I am 80 years old and a Retired Civil Servant. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
I can’t pin point any unique experience of my life. I would say that my life is a unique movement. I see my life as a question sign. One big question sign! The way I react to a situation today will not be the same tomorrow. Not that I am unpredictable like Donald Trump, you can predict me (laughing). To be honest with you, I can’t remember any moment in my life that I can call unique

What are your goals/dreams in life?
I’ve passed that stage (laughing). The goals and dreams is the last days of my life. I am 80 years at the moment. My life would have been over a few days ago when I had a Cardiac Arrest. According to the doctor, I would have been gone but thank God it happened at my local pharmacy. My goal is to be happy and to communicate happiness. My friends call me “Benny Goodman”. I love the name and I love to live up to that name

What do you like about your age?
Super! I love my age. My father died at the age of 88 years. My Mother died between the age of 86-88 years. My sister died at the age of 88 years. My brother as well died at the age of 88 years. So I am assuming I will die at the age of 88 years. So I have 8 more years left (laughing). It is something to be cheerful about, my time is not up yet, the DNA is at work. On a more serious note, most of my friends died before the age of 80 years which makes life lonely and more lonelier. I feel alone in my loneliness, it doesn’t make me happy so I reflect on my younger days and I feel happy

What is your biggest fear?
I have no fears. I don’t fear God but I respect God. The presence of God has been in my life since Childhood. I served in the church when I was a teenager. I don’t fear death, my prayer is to die peacefully. From childhood, I’ve known that death is the ultimate end for everyone

What do you think is the most important life principle?
To know God with all your strength and all your might. Love your neighbour as yourself and also do unto others as you would like others do unto you.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Sandhya. I am 56 years old. I am a Project Officer within the local authority. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Seeing my sons graduating with 2 degrees when both my husband and I have never been to University is one of the most unique experience of my life. We struggled with money and encouraged the boys to have degrees to enable them to get good jobs. Seeing my son get married was another unique experience – happy to see him with the girl of his dreams and starting his journey but felt sad as he left home to settle outside of our area. We are used to living closely with extended family since I have been married, and then to see him move away was difficult to accept at first. He had to do it due to his job but also came to like the new lifestyle

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My dream was to see my boys graduate and become respectable young gentlemen – they have both done this. My next dream is to see my younger son settle down with the girl of his dreams – someone who he can share his dreams with. My goal/dream for myself is to own a business and more importantly one that my husband and I can both work on. I want to lead a flexible life, have 2 holidays a year; Europe or within the UK and the other long-haul countries while we have the energy to travel. My other biggest dream is to live in a big house where my children and grandchildren can spend weekends and holidays and large enough so we can entertain, a house where we can have prayers during festivals and enjoy Diwali and Christmas with the extended families.

What do you like about your age?
I like the independence – the fact that I can go out with friends and stay out until late; no responsibility of young children. Able to travel to different places and have quality time with my husband.

What is your biggest fear?
I fear loss; death not myself but losing people I love especially my mum

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Staying humble through ups and downs in life. Love and Faith

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Charles. I am ​​​75 years old. I am a Development Worker. My sexual orientation is heterosexual.

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life will be the first time I travelled outside East Africa for a three-month course in Japan. I spent three days on the way and when I got there, everything was different from what I was used to in Uganda. These included the overwhelming population of Tokyo with streets which are unnamed, the fact that hardly anyone spoke English, the work culture and the food. I became home-sick within just a month

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My dreams/goals in life are making a visible contribution towards Liberating African communities from poverty, which is mainly caused by the negative aspects of our borrowed cultural/religious values, attitudes and practices. Financial independence for me, my family and African communities, whereby money works for us instead of us working for it. I was born and brought up in extreme poverty and I hated it. However, I believe that through challenging our values, attitudes and practices we can extricate ourselves from its grip and liberate others to do the same

What do you like about your age?
I am the age of realism. I do what I believe in and I am capable of achieving

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is not being able to achieve my dream of reaching more poor communities in Sierra Leone and Uganda to get out of poverty and not securing adequate funding for Transform Africa, the UK-based organisation I am working as the CEO

What do you think is the most important life principle?
The most important life principle is to be guided by the following “5R” – Responsibility, Resilience, Respect, Reliability and Relationships.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Caroline. I am 64 years old. I am Retired. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
I have lived a very boring life. Having my children has been the most unique experience of my life. I’ve got 2 girls. I’ve just gone through life because my husband died 20 years ago suddenly so it affected my life, so my retirement wasn’t what I thought afterwards, so I kind of paddled up and streamed a lot of it

What are your goals/dreams in life?
Not long ago I was sitting at home trying to fill my week with things to do. I got a dog and I take the dog walking. I try and learn new things and I try to keep myself busy. I belong to the University of Third Age and I try and experience new things I’ve never done before. I just signed up to an Ukulele class

What do you like about your age?
I say what I like and people take it. You are a bit more assertive. I like to go back in life knowing what I know now of course you can’t do that. You are more tolerant, I think you understand people more. You’ve had life experiences and you can understand people. Although older people are classed as grumpy old people, I think you understand people a bit more and where they are coming from

What is your biggest fear?
That my kids will come back home and live with me. I need to downsize (laughing)

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Forgiveness if you can, it’s very difficult to do so. As you get older, you realise that people have reasons for things

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Gayle. I am 62 years old. I am Retired Part time. Administrator Part time and full time carer. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life has been  travelling to China. Actually I can say that I walked on the great wall of china which is something I would have never imagined that I would do. It was about 8 years ago and I have been to China 3 times so I can actually say that I have been to China a few times

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My goals! I don’t really think I have any left. My dreams would be that my children would be settled and they would sort out their lives mainly my son and live peacefully and harmoniously. For instance my son and his daughter – everything will just pan out and he would settle into a role of being a father. And also my children would have a fulfilling life

What do you like about your age?
I love that I feel that I am free. Not free in the sense that they are not people making demands on me but I feel that I can dress how I like. It doesn’t matter to me what people think. I feel free, I am my own person. I say that but of course all these people make demands on me and I am free to say no.

What is your biggest fear?
I wouldn’t like to drop dead in front of my family. I don’t want my children to see that. I don’t want to suffer at the end of my life. I would to think that if I was going to die I just died. Although I would like to have sorted out things before hand but I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want my children go through the habit of who is going to look after me. I like to just end it. I’ve seen too many older people and the children have just left them and I feel they must be suffering knowing that they had these children who could care for them and haven’t. I don’t want to put my children through any trauma having to decide who is going to see to Mummy today

What do you think is the most important life principle?
You need to treat people the way you would want to be treated. You will reap what you sow, so treat people the way you would want to be treated

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Anna. I am over 60 years old. I am an Author, Writer and Performance Poet. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experiences of my life is giving birth to my children and having my first grand child, Living in South Africa during Apartheid and writing a book about it. Also going to Indonesia, getting my ex husband out of jail with £10,000 in the bottom of my suitcase and working for 11 years with domestic abuse victims

What are your goals/dreams in life?
I am working on 3 projects at the moment. I am well into my 60’s and to finish all the writing books that I’ve got on my list, and I’ve got 4. One is a book about domestic violence, one is about how to conduct a Buddhist funeral, I’ve been practising Buddhism for 35 years. One is how to be a poet and the last one is a book on a poetry collection

What do you like about your age?
I like the independence of being able to choose what I want to do. I raised 2 children. I had a husband who was an actor. I worked very hard because he was in and out of work so now my time is my own. There is lots I don’t like about the ageing process and there are lots I do like. I’ve got my own place, I’ve got my own car. I suppose its having the independence to choose when to get up in the morning and what to do with my day rather than have it defined by children and husband

What is your biggest fear?
The ageing process and not being able to write. Becoming physically incapacitated and not being able to write. I just hope I will put the ageing process on hold and long enough to complete the 4 books I am writing

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Being Kind. A lot of us are not kind to each other.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Prof Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu CBE DBE. I am 72 years old. I am an Emeritus Professor in Nursing that means I am retired but still have a link as an Emeritus Professor of Nursing with the University of West London. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
It is quite difficult but if I have to pull it out, one I think is unexpectedly finding my father when I was 25 years of age. So to understand the impact for me you need to know that my parents never married. I call my memoir Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union which is available to buy on Amazon. I am mixed race and I was an outcome of two students of Cambridge University having an affair. One was my mother obviously, she was of Irish origin born in England, she was studying classics at Cambridge University and my father a Nigerian and was studying Law at Cambridge University

What are your goals/dreams in Life?
I have achieved quite a few of my goals. For start, I’ve got my own family now. I’ve got a daughter and a grand daughter. I am very happy! My daughter is an actress and my grand daughter is nearly 12 years so that’s wonderful. Certainly in nursing which has always been my ambition from childhood to become a nurse which I did. I would never have imagined what I have achieved in my nursing career. I ended up as a Professor of Nursing but probably one of my proudest achievements in my career was becoming the first sickle cell nurse specialist in England

What do you like about your age?
One thing I like about my age is that I am not answerable to anybody. I don’t work for anybody. I can say what I want, I don’t think I’m rude or anything, I know I’ve developed my inner confidence.

What is your biggest fear?
Now I am getting older the biggest fear is disability through ageing, there is no doubt about that. At the moment I am very active but I do have what many people get as they get older, aches and pains

What do you think is the most important life principle?
I am talking about myself because I am aware that I can be intolerant and have to watch myself a little bit.

 

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Harshad. I am 73 years old. I am a Retired Business Man. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Having my our own business and working for myself and being a grand father. I have 3 gorgeous grandchildren which sums up the most unique experience of my life, I love and adore them so much. The joy of my son and his family live with us which is amazing and see my grandchildren everyday

What are your goals/dreams in life?
To travel more and see the world. Me and my wife love to experience and see other cultures. At the moment our life revolves around my grandchildren, I take them to school, football and ballet classes. My grandchildren are our priority now, everything happening in my life is centred around our grandchildren

What do you like about your age?
Spending time with the grandchildren is what I love about my age and travelling. Travelling opens your mind and heart and makes you more tolerant and open minded. At this age, the grandchildren keeps me busy. I take things easy and I have a very active life. The most important thing is that I am healthy and mobile which is awesome. My spare time revolves around the family. family is very important to me because it provides love, hope, support and values

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is death. Yes I do fear death. I know it will happen to everyone but I still fear death

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Love and affection. Human beings need a certain amount of love and affection in their lives. It’s important to feel loved. Also, do not cheat anybody, be sincere and truthful in whatever you do.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Rosie. I am 61 years old and I am a Research Assistant at the University of Oxford, My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Coming to work at the University of Oxford because there are some horrible stories out there that tend to say that people that have been in care don’t do very well and some of the statistics are really quite negative like “you may end up homeless, you may end up as a drug addict etc” All of these you are in a way stigmatised by those things. Its changing very slowly but not a lot. Not a lot of care experience people go to University because they weren’t nurtured as children, they were often neglected and abused so for somebody with my sort of background to end up working in one of the most amazing university in the UK is an absolute experience for me, and I am absolutely thrilled to be here

What are you goals/dreams in life?
One of my goals will be to finish my PhD and its a creative writing PhD and that means that I am writing a novel as part of the PhD. So I would like to get the novel finished and published and the novel “is about a young girl in the 1970s who leaves a Care Home. Also my dream will be to work towards a more permanent relationship with my partner

What do you like about your age?
Confidence! I am finding I am much more confidence these days. I came for an interview at The University of Oxford. I am really enjoying the new found confidence. I was head hunted for this job because of my experience. The work that I am doing at Oxford University is looking at ways to support children in care in education, so its a worthwhile job

What is your biggest fear?
I have to say that I shouldn’t have this but I do, It’s death! I am enjoying being here and I haven’t find a way to come to terms with that ending. I would have to one day because it happens to everybody

What do you think is the most important life principle?
I think responsibility. for example, climate change is a real threat to the future of humanity. If you live responsibly, its a wonderful thing. If everybody lives responsibly, we can reduce the impact!

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Mia FRSA OBE. I am 60 years old. I work as a Project Worker with a mental health charity called Sound Minds. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life was travelling to Greece and Paris, and gliding off the mountain. I felt very precious and very nearer to God. This experience happened in the 1980s

What are your goals/dreams in life?
To stay alive, live good. Be healthy and don’t die young

What do you like about your age?
I love my grey hair. The fact that when I go to events people say things like “Is there an elder in the room that can speak on behalf of the community” and I am that elder. For ages, I’ve always been the youngest, shortest and the smallest but now its all changed

What is your biggest fear?
Racism and Rats! Racism because its all around us and its getting worse because of Brexit and its going to get worse post Boris Johnson, it’s just going to get unbelievable when Boris Johnson and Donald Trump get together. Its going to be an absolute nightmare. We will probably rise through it and get through that because we’ve got through so many things. Another biggest fear is rats! I can’t stand them, just the thought of them, much less to see one I would just faint! that’s why I’ve got a cat

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better. Be good to yourself, be kind to to others, give support where you can and prioritise yourself with self care. I never loose, I either win or I learn.

 

Name. Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Kameel. I am 61 years Old. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
Getting married and I had a beautiful wedding. Having my daughters has been the most unique experience of my life. I have 2 wonderful girls. I will also add going on lovely holidays with the family.

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My goal is to make sure the girls are happy that means talking to them more. Now we are talking which is amazing! Just before my wife and their mum passed away I didn’t talk a lot because I was in shock for years and the girls use to say “Dad, you never talk”. One of my goals is to make sure that when my time comes I know they are okay. My other goal is also to move forward because I’ve been stuck in the past and people say I should move forward.

What do you like about your age?
I don’t think I like my age (lauging) I wish I was 46 years. It’s more about that I am ok for my age. I still can run, I can still do things, I’m not in pain. I think you get to a point when you are in a certain age you think “if I’m not in pain, if I can see ok, If I can hear, that’s great”, because when I look back at my other friends, some of them can’t walk, others who have died, you know what . . “I’ve got to 60 years and so far touchwood, I am not in any physical disability, I am lucky” You do think of your health more when you get older

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is if I lost that connection with the girls! Loosing that connection will be my biggest fear cos its taken time to build up. Now I tell them whatever you feel about me just say it even if I get upset. In the past it was like they didn’t want to say anything in case I get upset, now I rather they say it to me.

What do you think is the most important life principle?
It has to be relationship. I use to be in the past quite materialistic. A big house and sometimes that took over my relationship with my wife and kids. Relationship and connection with your family or the other half is more important than anything. When my wife passed away the big house didn’t mean anything, it became nothing

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Ian. My profession is that I am a small business owner that specialises in Inclusive Leadership. I am 76 years old. My sexual orientation is Bisexual. I realised I was a bisexual when I was in school. I was attracted to the boys as well as the girls but I didn’t say anything. I came out in my early 20s. All my family, friends and work colleagues know, I have never had a problem but only once. Being Bisexual is supposed to be the most difficult in LGBQT things to be because you have to convincingly play two roles. Anyway regarding having a problem once, one night I was in Sheffield and I needed to use an outside Loo. I went to the gent outside loo and there was no one on it. And when I came out, there were 3 homophobes outside, they gave me a black eye for going into what was called a gents cottage. I didn’t known it was a gents cottage. In those days that’s where gay men meet up with other gay men, nowadays as opposed to the internet

What is the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life is growing up in a council estate and going to Oxford University

What are your goals/dreams in life?
Well, I’ve always wanted to make the world a slightly better place and inclusive leadership enables me to do that. I also very much enjoy being a father. I have two lovely sons. One of them is a Professor at Florida State University and the other is an artist in Edinburgh. I’ve got 4 grandchildren – 2 grandsons and 2 grand daughters

What do you like about your age?
What I like about my age is that I don’t have to worry about things any longer. I don’t have to worry about finding work even though I still work. I don’t have to worry about money because I got my pensions. I got lots of friends and I’ve got a very good social life

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is having some very uncomfortable heart attack or one of my children or grandchildren getting injured

What do you think is the most important life principle?
I think the most important life principle is never to tell a lie. I never tell lies!

 

Name, Age, Profession and Orientation
My name is Julian. I am 66 years old and I am a Government Statistician but that doesn’t define me. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
It’s hard to define by any one thing because I’ve had a few unique experiences. I’ve had the experience of going to countries not as a tourist but as an informed visitor I suppose. I’ve worked in Australia that gave me the opportunity to do things I would never have done. There is nothing I have done no one else has ever done so I can’t think I’ve done anything completely unique. I’ve had an interest in lifestyle because I haven’t been married or haven’t had children

What are your goals and dreams in life?
That’s very hard to define now. I wanted to make the world a better place but that seems quite hard to do. And I think I wanted to be able to help people so I have been a chair of a local authority, I’ve done some volunteering work but I’m really struggling now to see where things are going because I am so conscious about how the world is changing around me and see where any of these goals and dreams might lead

What do you like about your age?
In a way I have a lot of freedom and I can have a lack of structure and I can have a lot of choices. I spend my time with what I do. I am much more free than I was working on a regular basis but that is very challenging too because to input structure, without it is difficult to be motivated. Having a freedom pass is a nice thing about my age, that’s quite a nice thing to have, makes a difference to my inclination to perhaps travel around the city of London.

What is your biggest fear?
Health and poor health. It’s from experience seeing other people suffering things. Although I have a father who is in his 90s and he is fit, well and active, lives independently, still drives. I have a role model in someone who doesn’t have those fears. Also not being able to do things because of restriction

What do you think is the most important life principle?
To work with people, to work cooperatively with people, to enhance the world rather than distract from it.

 

Name. Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Mike. I am 64 years old. I am a Retired Carpenter. I am at the crazy end of heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
It has to be the birth of my daughter. Also standing a mile and a half away from Niagara Falls and getting wet from the speed of the waterfall. Working for the Ex beatles, Paul McCartney, I was programming synthesizers for Paul McCartney in the 1980s. Another unique experience was when Stevie Wonder was doing an European tour in the early 80s and they forgot to order a flight case for their 8 foot grand piano and they called me in-short notice to build the flight case which I did, So I airbrushed the two logos on the side of the case and they were so delighted. They gave me a first class ticket to Paris, an accommodation in a five star hotel, some tshirts, a backstage pass which I still got till today and an invite at the exclusive after tour party. I got to sit at the table with Stevie Wonder and his best mates

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My aspiration at this time in life will be quite simple, to have a quiet and peaceful life, and to hope and pray for some world peace, some better social justice and plant some more trees

What do you like about your age?
I am at the place between being young and very old. I am still active but slowing down. There is a certain peace and clam that comes with this age you don’t have when you are young and I really like that and I am still fit enough to enjoy it

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that in a very short space of 200 years we human beings have managed to mess up our planet eco system. It won’t sustain human life in another 30 years. If I pull down the denial stuff my biggest fear is that I cannot afford to pay electricity bill next week

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Honesty, because with honesty you get communication and trust, and all relationships are based on communication and trust.

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Shirley. I am 63 years old. I have a 21st Century title in that I have a portfolio of a career. I have layers of career and I still do a lot of things. Now I am doing security which is a new profession to me in the last year. I am a also a Travel Agent and runs an online travel agency, and also a life coach. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What has been the most unique experience of your life?
The most unique experience of my life must be the circumstance of my birth and how I came to England. How I came to England was very unusual. I was kidnapped and brought here by my father when I was 2 years old and that has been part of my life evolution. My father’s sexuality had something to do with that as well. My most unique experience of my life is that I am a survivor

What are your goals/dreams in life?
One of my dreams will be to see my great grand children. I have my grandson who is 20 years old and the dream will be to see the next generation. A goal in my life is to have a life partner, its about the only thing I haven’t accomplished myself. I’ve never managed to accomplish that properly (laughing)

What do you like about your age?
I look very good for myself. I am how I want to look at 60 years. I feel comfortable with my age. I am very happy to have reached over 60 years

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is dying alone

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Honesty is very important. Honesty, kindness and empathy

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Parvati. I am 63 years old. I work as a Customer Service Representative with HSBC 3 days a week. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Having a grand daughter. I never thought I would have a grand daughter. I finally got one and I am really happy. Why I am really happy is that my daughter and her husband didn’t plan to have children

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My goal is to retire as soon as possible and have my state pension. My dream is to travel to the Far East for 3 months and ride a bike

What do you like about your age?
I don’t feel my age. Age is just a number. I love to be around kids. Kids keep you young. You are never too old for anything. Live for today not for tomorrow

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is going in a deep water. I do swim but I can’t float. I can jump out of the plane, do a parachute jumping, hold a snake. I would go in a sea if I have a lifeguard

What do you think is the most important life principle?
Be happy! Live for today not for tomorrow

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Mulikatu. I am 80 years old. I am a Retired Caterer. I volunteer at Old people’s home in Tower Bridge, London. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Being a grandmother has been the most unique experience of my life. I love my children, grandchildren and great grand children. I adore them and I love them so much. When my first grandson was born, I resigned from my job. Seeing my children, grand children grow up, educated and have their family makes me happy because it was hard back in the day, but God is merciful and compassionate and saw me through it

What are your goals/dreams in life?
To touch and empower people but I can’t help everyone. I try as much as possible to help people around me. Also I want my children, grandchildren, great grand children to stand on their own, to fend for themselves, to fit into the society and to be a blessing to their generation

What do you like about your age?
In everything in life, I give glory to God. I am healthy. I am well. I thank God for making it possible for me to see 80 years. I have wonderful friends. We go out, go to parties and have fun

What is your biggest fear?
I am not afraid of anything. If anything happens to me I already know where I am going. I am going to heaven. If you have God, you don’t need to be afraid. I don’t fear death because Jesus Christ has died for me. The only fear I have is that I want my children, grand children, great grand children and great great grand children to be one, to unite in whatever they are doing in life. I don’t want them to divide when I am gone

What do you think is the most important life principle?
After being educated, have humility and be humble. Be clean in your heart!

 

Name, Age, Profession and Sexual Orientation
My name is Andy. I am 65 yrs old. I am the Chief Executive of Race for Agenda which is one of Britain’s leading social policy think tanks focusing on issues that affect black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. My sexual orientation is heterosexual

What is the most unique experience of your life?
Meeting and marrying my partner who is from Uganda. My wife is from a Muslim background but is not very religious. In 1992 I converted to Islam so we could get married with the agreement of her family. I’m not a very observant Muslim though I have a deep respect for Islam

What are your goals/dreams in life?
My dream in life is where equality between people of all different races, gender & sexual orientation is real rather than saying it, but doing stuff about it, campaigning and working with other people. Racism is probably 400 or 500 years old and its going to take another 200-300 years to get rid off.

What do you like about your age?
I like the fact that I have grandchildren and I love them to bits. Its much more fun and much more easier than having kids, you can chuck them around & give them back after and you can spoil them. I like that I have experienced quite a lot in my life. I’ve met extra ordinary people partly because I know a lot of refugees. Refugees are the most extra ordinary people, they’ve been through a lot, the kind of experience that white people like me have never gone through

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear in current context is the climate and the culture of racism, xenophobia and hatred of immigrants! It’s going to get so much worse that my grand children would have much more worse life than me. I am optimistic, there is an old saying “I have the optimism of the will but the pessimism of the intellect”. I feel, I know that things are going badly wrong but I never less had to believe that you can do something to make things better otherwise I won’t get up in the morning

What do you think is the most important life principle?
To listen and challenge yourself, and be open to new beliefs

 

 

About Chin We

Chin We is an award wining visual artist and art making philosopher based in London, England. Her work explores themes and issues of social/cultural identity, culture, representation, heritage and the african diaspora through photography, film and mixed media.

Connect with Chin We at www.chinwe,.me    Instagram: chinwe.me    Twitter: chinw_e     Linkedin: Chinwe FRSA

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