“Government policies must value older people’s contribution to building supportive communities,” say charity chiefs
The role of the third sector in supporting older people to play an active part in local communities is being discussed at the Pierhead today.
Age Alliance Wales is bringing older people from across Wales to Cardiff Bay to discuss how the third sector and older people can work together to mitigate the impact of austerity on older people.
Richard Williams, Chair of Age Alliance Wales and Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru says:
“Age Alliance Wales is a coalition of national organisations that works together, with and for older people across the country.
“AAW organisations work with older people to deliver services that enable people to live well for longer within their own community and prevent over reliance on NHS services.
“Austerity in the form of cuts to local services is drastically reducing opportunities for older people to get out, socialise and to provide invaluable peer support. By working alongside the public sector, AAW organisations provide opportunities for older people to have a say in the way services are designed and delivered, but also to take an active role in delivering services.”
“Older people are a valuable community asset that we ignore at our peril. We are calling on the Welsh Government to protect local services that are successful in supporting older people to live well and maintain independence.”
For many older people, third sector organisations offer an opportunity to use their own skills and personal experiences to provide practical and emotional support to other older people.
As Chair of the Vale 50+ Strategy Forum, Lynda has an active role in ensuring that older people have a say about local services. The Forum also works to influence policy at a national level.
Lynda also volunteers with two voluntary organisations – Age Cymru and Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Her role at Age Cymru is to support people over 50 to access a free online health assessment from NHS Wales, called Add to your Life. Lynda visits care homes, day centres and older people’s events to promote awareness of the resource and also to help people who are not computer literate to use the online assessment.
At Age Connects Wales, Lynda volunteers as a Cancer and Older People Advocate. She uses her own personal experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis to help others. Being diagnosed with cancer can be a very traumatic time and having someone to talk who has had a similar experience can be a great help. Lynda also provides practical support by signposting to other organisations, providing advice on how to access benefits and will even accompany people to chemotherapy, if needed.
Far from being a drain on society, Lynda’s story demonstrates how many older people are currently providing vital community services. It is estimated that people over 65 make a contribution worth over £1 billion a year to the Welsh economy. At a time when local authorities are closing adult education centres, day centres and libraries, the Welsh Government must actively support older people and third sector organisations to build cohesive and supportive communities.
The Age Alliance Wales event is taking place at the Pierhead at 12 – 1.30pm.