This Friday, 25th October, Age Scotland’s online petition calling for action to end isolation among older people will close. Campaigns officer Doug Anthoney reflects on the campaign’s progress and next steps.
In February we launched the Still Waiting campaign; which calls for action to stop older people becoming lonely and isolated due to lack of suitable transport services. If you haven’t already signed our online petition, please don’t miss your chance to do so before it closes.
So far we’ve succeeded in putting the transport problems faced by many older people high on the political agenda. 38 MSPs signed up in support of the campaign; more than a quarter of the Scottish Parliament, including the leaders of each opposition party. Many of these MSPs backed our call for action during a Parliamentary debate on Still Waiting .
The campaign was also reflected on by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee during its inquiry into community transport services. They agreed with us that it was unfair that older people who are unable to use regular bus services, due to disability, ill-health or geography, end up out of pocket while their peers enjoy free travel.
But we’ve not yet succeeded in convincing the Scottish Government to adjust the National Concessionary Travel scheme so that older and disabled people can use their bus passes on community transport services. Ministers say that demand and costs could prove too great, given our ageing population. We say that, given our ageing population, the cost of inaction is even greater as older people who become isolated from their community are more likely to suffer ill health and need residential or hospital care.
Community transport services provide a lifeline for older people who can’t use mainstream buses, but themselves need a funding lifeline if they are to thrive and meet growing needs. The Government is considering additional funding for community transport vehicles, which would be welcome, but won’t in itself secure the future of these services. Including them in the National Concessionary Travel scheme offers a more sustainable, long term solution.
So please sign the petition before next Friday, and encourage your online friends to add their support.