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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 22:24 GMT 23:24 UK
Pensioners 'choose to keep working'
Nesta Holland
Nesta Holland, 73, says she has no intention of stopping work

A survey conducted for BBC One's Six O'Clock News suggests that 47% of people believe Britain is a worse place to live now compared with 20 years ago.

As part of an examination of modern British society, BBC social affairs correspondent Richard Bilton talks to people who have kept working when others have long since retired.

Nesta Holland is 73. She's been working for nearly 60 years but has no intention of stopping yet.

"I don't see why I should," she says. "As long as I feel I can do my share I'll work as long as I'm able to."

She works as a packer in a factory that sells party goods. Alongside her are other women who've chosen to go on beyond pensionable age.

At this time of year the boxes are being loaded up with Halloween masks and bunting.

It's busy work but there's much laughing and joking. The social side of the job is as important as the money.

Nesta says the whole package of a working life is important. "I wouldn't want to just sit at home. The older person has quite a lot to offer and in some cases can be more reliable.

"There's no reason why we shouldn't be here. Everyone benefits."

Expensive property

In a town like Christchurch that's particularly true. This place has one of the oldest populations in the country.

High house prices mean young people find it hard to settle - the demand for workers means employers can't afford to ignore anyone.

Nick Peeks manages the factory where Nesta works.

"Older workers are crucial to us," he says. "Especially here in Christchurch - if we couldn't tap into that older populace then our labour force and our choices would be incredibly limited."

I've got a lot of life left in me but I'm getting no response from companies. It's like they don't want to employ older people
Pam Little

That's what the government thinks, too. From October there'll be new legislation making it easier for people to work beyond the traditional retirement age.

The regulations will also force employers to think harder about giving workers the chance to stay on. But there are still problems.

Less than a mile from where Nesta works, 65-year-old Pam Little is looking after her grandson. She enjoys helping the family out but would love to be in paid employment.

She's been trying to get a job for months and says people like her are trapped. She can't afford to live on her pension but can't get employers to see past her age.

"I feel very upset about it all. I've got a lot of life left in me but I'm getting no response from companies. It's like they don't want to employ older people."

But should this be a vision of our later years? Looking for wages and work.

Happily retired

Down at Christchurch harbour there are pensioners with a different view.

Alan Ford, 78, is one of dozens of retired men and women pushing their dinghies out into the water.

Christchurch is a place where many come to retire - and the sailing club is thriving.

Alan is forthright in his views. He wouldn't want to return to life as a teacher.

"I love sailing. This is the last part of my life and I want to enjoy it."

But he adds a qualification.

"If you like working, though, you should stay. And there's the issue of money - you need to have that."

That's the point. Christchurch reflects the changing nature of what happens when we get old.

With its ageing population, the town is a glimpse of the future.

Good health and bad pensions mean more and more of us will be forced to keep on working, to at least delay our retirement dreams.

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