SCHOOL through its flagship initiative ‘Vriddha Mitra’ works with vulnerable older people in India. Vriddha Mitra’s vision is of an India in which older people can lead dignified, wholesome and secured lives. And it focuses on building an age friendly ecosystem for the elderly population in India.
An age-friendly ecosystem translates into the ‘change’ in:
• How we think, feel and act towards the older people;
• How important it is to develop support structures that foster the abilities of older people;
• And how we deliver care, support and services that are responsive to the requirements of older people.
‘Vriddha Mitra’ reaches the elderlies directly by establishing ‘Community-based Mechanisms’. It creates champions and spokesperson who can advocate for the elderlies.
It creates livelihood options, not just for earning income but also for keeping them engaged. It collaborates with the government at all levels (national, state, district/ city level). And builds linkages with varied other stakeholders that help in improving the quality of life of the elderlies
In doing so ‘Vriddha Mitra’ works through five different divisions focusing on:
Community Based Mechanism (our field-based projects): which encompasses our community based comprehensive support model, which has been tested in 2 slums of Pune city, further scaled up to 63 more slums in Pune in April 2020 in collaboration with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). This model has also been scaled up in 2021 to cities of Mumbai and Bhopal and Bhitarwar block in Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh. Our total direct reach is more than 10000 elderlies in all 4 locations in the country.
focuses on dialogue at the national, state and district/ city levels on two aspects, one is increasing the uptake of existing schemes and programs and the other is introduction of newer and better policies and programs for the elderly.
involves two core activities, one, creating platforms that help in promoting the cause of elderly and two, creating champions/ spokespersons of all ages to support and advocate for the cause of elderlies.
In this division, we highlight the need for work, and active as well as productive engagement of the elderly along with demystifying the perception that a person above 60 years needs to retire and live a life without new activities, skills or contribution to the country and self. Lifelong learning, active engagement and productivity, and inculcating a sense of achievement are the core aspects of this division.
There is a dearth of understanding regarding the challenges of the elderlies that emanates from scientific studies. Our community-based projects work towards improving the quality of life of the elderlies, and this is being scientifically captured. We also see a great need to initiate many more studies across the country for better understanding.