The First Annual Age Alliance Wales Senedd Event
11th January 2012
The First Annual Age Alliance Wales Senedd Event was held in the Oriel in the Senedd Building and was a great success in raising the profile of older people’s issues in Wales. Age Alliance Wales organisations worked together to invite over 50 older people to the event and many took the opportunity to meet and raise their concerns with their AMs.
Mark Isherwood AM opened the event by welcoming everyone to the Senedd and expressing his pleasure at seeing so many older people in attendance. He summarised Age Alliance’s key messages and gave some details of the members’ recent work with older people.
Sarah Rochira, Chair of Age Alliance Wales and Director of RNIB Cymru thanked everyone for attending, acknowledging that some had travelled a long way. She said that Age Alliance Wales’ work is to develop policies and frameworks to improve the lives of older people in Wales. Thanks to the huge amount of expertise of the member organisations, Age Alliance Wales can be said to speak with the voices of older people.
Much progress has been made, but there are still too many older people living in poverty and struggling in their daily lives. The issues may seem complex, but Age Alliance Wales aims to cut through the complexity to ensure that it stays focussed on what older people want.
Age Alliance Wales will policy makers to account to achieve a more joined-up approach both locally and nationally. Together we can ensure that Wales is not just a great place to grow old, but the best.
Joan Williams spoke of her experiences of sight loss. She told members and guests that she does not feel old because she has stayed active, but in order to take advantage of everything available to older people, you need to be aware of the resources. Joan said that she was lucky to have support available to her. Since retiring, she has learnt to touch-type, to use a computer and to Skype her sons in Australia.
It is impossible for ministers to know what it is really like to be an older person. For Joan, it is that she cannot do all the sport that she used to enjoy. However, she has joined a cycling club and is taking advantage of everything that the RNIB provide.
Audrey Griffiths then addressed guests about adult learning. She has been learning new skills since she replied to an advert for people to train as tour guides. Since then, Audrey has completed a qualification in tourism and, although she has retired as a tour guide, now lectures part-time.
Audrey says that she has never stopped learning. She acts as a speaker for various organisations and every time she has to write a speech, she has to research the subject. Finally, Audrey encouraged older people to use computers, even if it is only to find a better energy tariff.
Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, said that she was pleased to recognise the commitment of the Age Alliance Wales member organisations and to be celebrating an organisation that brings partners together in a place that represents Welsh democracy.
The Deputy Minister said that, like the rest of the world, Wales has an ageing population. She is proud that Wales is leading the way with policies that reflect the fact and take older people’s issues into account.
There is a legislative programme in place that includes the social services bill, for which the public consultation will be published in the spring. The Deputy Minister encouraged everyone to respond to the consultation.
The review of the Strategy for Older People in Wales is already under way and will be grounded in the views of older people. The draft review and proposals for the next stage will be published for consultation in April.
Partnership is critical to success. We must continue to promote ageing as a positive and challenge the stereotypes. The Deputy Minister said that she wants Wales to be a great place to grow old.
The event gave a glimpse into the lives of two older people and highlighted the importance of ensuring that organisations and policy makers work together to ensure that Wales does become the best place to grow old.