I am happy to welcome the creator of Oapschat.co.uk – a website with a mission to help the community it serves.
Could you tell us something about yourself?
Hello Valerie and thank you so much for inviting me. My name is Janice Rosser, (please call me Jan!) I was born and bred in Hereford, where I still live fifty plus years later. I have one sister, the author Margaret James. On leaving school, I had a career in banking, followed by a few enjoyable years working as a book keeper in a local Veterinary Surgery. I took a career break to look after my two sons. I then spent twelve years working in various Pharmacies. Since 2010, I have looked after my elderly mother full time.
What inspired you to start Oapschat?
A family conversation around the dining room table one lunchtime. We realised there were not many online community pages for the people approaching the silver and golden years of their lives. So, I started a Facebook page in April 2013 and began posting and commenting on various topics to do with the over fifties age groups.
How did you visualise the concept of Oapschat initially?
I thought I would see how the FB page took off and then write a weekly blog to see if any interest was generated. It quickly became clear that people were very interested and commented and posted daily. I was mentioned in The Daily Mail and once I reached 300 plus members on FB, I decided the time was right to launch the website in November 2013.
You encourage interaction between the readers and contributors to the site. Have you found it encouraging to see the response and also the number of sponsors that support it?
I find it extremely encouraging to read the various viewpoints and comments and to know that I am helping people engage in online conversation. I do not have sponsors as such, I have had various companies and individuals that have donated raffle prizes for me which is fantastic and I also have fifteen contributors to date who have written their own articles for the website.
Did its success surprise you, or were you aware of a need for such site for this age group?
The website is building very nicely after launching on November 1 2013 and the Facebook page now has 408 members. I realised last year that there is a real need for this age group after the Facebook launch in April 2013.
Being a carer and developing a website are both demanding activities. What do you see as the next step forward for Janice and Oapschat?
Caring is indeed very demanding. It can also be very tiring and isolating. Oapschat is hard work, but extremely satisfying and rewarding. I want to see it grow and develop in order to reach out and help many people who may be in a similar situation to myself. I receive many messages of support from people who are living alone and they say that it is a good way of interacting and realising you are not on your own. It is a great way to make new friends and develop my writing skills. Oapschat is my baby and I shall nurture it for many months and hopefully, years!
Thanks you for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you every success in your very worthwhile venture in reaching out to others.