It’s been just a little more than a year since we started our Seniors Circles program.  

This program is part of a collaborative project, Keeping Ottawa Seniors Connected (KOSC), funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors. It brings together isolated seniors who want to improve their English language skills and make friends

Here’s a Q&A to indicate what we have learned after one year.

Why do participants like the program?

There are four reasons. Seniors get to get socialize and meet new people. They learn helpful skills to have basic and essential conversations or to make phone calls. For example, participants over time become more comfortable with talking to people at their bank or with their family doctor. Participants liked the program because it was a comfortable and supportive environment in which to practise pronunciation. And finally, the program was an opportunity to talk about their experiences and share their individual stories.

What has been the impact of the program?

Seniors are socializing more with their neighbours from different ethno-cultural backgrounds. They are more comfortable talking to their apartment building staff when they need help. They feel less isolated and feel more informed about the activities in their buildings and nearby community.

What are some of the numbers?

We had 78 English conversation circles and informal sharing sessions. We hosted five monthly social events and one quarterly special event. One hundred and nineteen seniors participated on a regular basis. Eight volunteers worked with the program.

What is the mother tongue of the participants?

Spanish was the No. 1 language at 38 per cent, followed by Somali (30 per cent), Farsi (15 per cent), French (10 per cent), and Arabic (eight per cent)

(This report was created with the support of the Social Planning Council of Ottawa)