Age Scotland’s annual Regional Assemblies programme starts this week. Doug Anthoney looks at why these events matter to the Charity, and for older people.
The poet Keats called autumn the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,’ but for Age Scotland this time of year brings fruitfulness of a different kind. During September and October the Charity’s Community Services Team brings in a bumper harvest – of older people’s ideas, opinions and inspirational stories. Yes, it’s the Age Scotland Regional Assemblies season.
The idea is simple. Hold a series of local events for older people who belong to Age Scotland’s member groups, in which they can share experiences, gather information, make contacts and articulate their collective voice on issues that matter to them. But it’s not just a talking shop – their views genuinely influence the Charity’s policies and campaigns, and its work in communities for the year ahead.
The Assemblies programme kicked off this week with an event in Galashiels, attended by 26 participants from older people’s groups. They learned about the progress of the Reshaping Care for Older People strategy in the Scottish Borders and heard a moving presentation on the work carried out by the Callum’s Trust and Margaret Kerr Unit at Borders General Hospital.
They also took part in a workshop focusing on the next stage of the Charity’s End Isolation campaign, focussing on Community Transport, and expressed a willingness to sign petitions and provide case studies. The Assembly also agreed that the eligibility age for the bus pass could in future be linked to State Pension age to free up funds to include Community Transport initiatives in the concessionary travel scheme.
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s new Interim Chief Executive, was there. “I personally found the day very informative” said Brian. “It reaffirmed to me that Age Scotland is not the voice of older people; rather they have a voice and we need to be the engine behind empowering them.”
Today the Assemblies programme continues in Castle Douglas; to be followed by events in Kilmarnock (19th September), Glasgow (20th September), Dyce (26th September) and Dundee (10th October). However the work doesn’t stop after that, as through the year there will be numerous local networking events to make sure collectively our member groups grow strong and thrive.
Doug Anthoney is Age Scotland’s Communication and Campaigns Officer