The long-term effects of the pandemic on our health and our finances are well documented and we are likely to feel the ripples of its impact for many years to come.

But one of the less well-known results of Covid-19 is the seismic blow it dealt to over-50s in the workplace.

During the lockdown, the number of older workers seeking unemployment-related benefits doubled. And while there has been a recovery in the past year or so, more people in their middle years are now economically inactive than any other age range.

The reasons behind this are varied. Some can be traced simply to job losses, some to ill health, others may have taken the lockdowns as their cue to wrap up an ailing business or retire altogether, possibly several years ahead of schedule.

Whatever the reasons, the loss of middle-aged workers from the labour market is a worrying trend that we need to arrest.

To lose your job is always a frightening and daunting experience. To lose it having spent a couple of decades in the industry, or even in that position, would throw anyone into a spin.

You might have a career’s worth of skills and experience to fall back on as you sell yourself again to employers, but it’s not always easy to find work quickly. In fact, people over 50 who lose their jobs are more likely to suffer long-term joblessness than any other age group.

Over-50s who are unemployed are twice as likely to be out of work for 12 months or more as younger workers, and almost 50 per cent more likely as workers aged 25 to 49.

And maybe that suits some of them just fine. After all, if you have managed to feather your nest to the point that you can retire early, then good luck to you. 

But that doesn’t mean you need to drop out of the labour market altogether.

Research shows getting more over-50s back into work would seriously boost the economy and productivity.  

Not only would it be a boost to your own confidence, health and mental wellbeing, it would also provide a huge boost to the local economy. 

Young entrepreneurs are crying out for advice and guidance that older employees could offer. Think of all the knowledge and experience that is currently wafting itself around a golf course, going to waste.

Why not use the opportunity to take on a new challenge? You could work for a start-up, or volunteer for a community group. 

Even if you don’t need the money, East Hampshire certainly needs you and your skills.

In October, EHDC will join forces with Damian Hinds MP to host an event dedicated to giving people of all ages the chance to take on a new challenge. Whether you’re looking for a new job, a career change or a volunteering position, there are lots of opportunities out there for you.

The event is called New Directions and will be held on October 27 at Alton College. It is being funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

Right now, we are looking for businesses and community groups that have opportunities to offer to come forward and take part. 

Businesses hiring new recruits, community groups calling for volunteers, classes searching for students – they can all exhibit for free at the event that is tailor-made for people looking to make a change, whether that’s a new career, a new challenge or learning a new skill.

There is a well of skills and experience to draw from among local people looking for something new. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Contact [email protected] if you want to be involved.