by DAVID FREEZER
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The alarming and growing problem of ‘pensioner poverty’ was discussed at an event held by the Norfolk Older Peoples’ Forum today.
The meeting was held at the Costessey Centre, in Longwater Lane, Costessey, where representatives of various organisations spoke about services in Norfolk which can help prevent ‘pensioner poverty’.
Stalls from the likes of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk County Council’s trading standards department and Osteoporosis Norfolk provided leaflets and information.
A questionnaire was also handed out which featured 15 deprivation indicators which the government introduced in May 2011 as a way of measuring older people’s quality of life.
The simple yes or no questions included ‘do you have at least one filling meal a day’ and ‘are you able to see friends or family at least once a month’.
Rex Humphrey, the retired former chief executive of Age Concern Norfolk, which is now known as Age UK Norfolk, chaired the meeting.
Mr Humphrey warmed up the crowd with a light-hearted introduction, saying: “I’m sometimes now not referred to as retired chief executive of Age Concern Norfolk but as Jake’s dad. If anyone watches Formula One or the Olympics, you might know who (BBC television presenter) Jake is.
“He’s in Norfolk today, which is the only time between now and Christmas, so I have my priorities right!”
However, before introducing the meeting’s first speaker, Mr Hamilton had a more serious message, saying: “A significant happening took place this year when I picked up my first state retirement pension. I thought ‘wow, one hundred pounds a week’.
“We all know that for large numbers of older people finances are tight but poverty, as we will discover today, is more than just finances.”
Mr Humphrey, who was joined at the top table by Emily Millington-Smith MBE, chairman of the Norfolk Older Peoples’ Forum, then introduced Linda Gill from Age UK Norfolk as the first speaker.
Ms Gill, the organisation’s development manager for advice and advocacy, spoke about the Surviving Winter appeal - which the EDP and Evening News are backing in an attempt to raise more than the £55,000 which was raised last year.
That money raised meant 239 households received grants to help them through the tough winter months and Ms Gill said the Surviving Winter appeal is playing a big part in helping her organisation battle ‘pensioner poverty’.
She said: “Hopefully Surviving Winter will be able to help even more people this year. We are still finding those people who are not receiving all the benefits they are entitled to who, if they had called us, we could have helped them.
“As more older people remain living at home, including those with mental capacity issues, we have more of a job to do.”
Ms Gill also spoke about Age UK Norfolk’s new Money School scheme, which is due to start next year and will offer advice on important issues, such as switching energy providers to get the best deal, getting the best interest rates for savings accounts and how to avoid scams and fraud.
Her talk was followed by talks from the likes of Tony Cooke from South Norfolk District Council, John Bowlam from the county council’s trading standards department and representatives from Saffron Housing and the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust.
The talks were then followed by a question and answer session with the speakers, table discussions and then feedback from those groups to help Norfolk Older People’s Forum decide a plan of action moving forward from the event.
- To apply for help from the Surviving Winter fund, call Age UK Norfolk on 01603 787111. To apply for assistance from the Warm and Well fund, call the Norfolk Community Foundation on 01603 623958.
- To make a donation to the Surviving Winter appeal, use the form on this page or go to www.norfolkfoundation.com