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Older people’s organisations take our call for a Commissioner to Downing Street

NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt praised the joint campaign that saw the UK’s four leading older people’s organisations take our call for a Commissioner to Downing Street this week (30th April).

Jan and NPC members joined the leaders and members of our partner organisations to deliver a petition with more than 36,000 signatures calling for the appointment of a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing.

The NPC and charities, Independent Age, Age UK, and the Centre for Ageing Better want an independent Commissioner to focus attention on the issues people in later life face. Foremost of these is the hidden issue of pensioner poverty which affects one in six older people across the UK, the difficulty accessing social care, and loneliness and social isolation. 

COPA leaders of the four older people’s organisations jointly campaigning for a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing.  (Left to right) Jan Shortt, General Secretary, NPC; Ellen Lebethe, former Vice-President, NPC ; Joanna Elson, Chief Executive, Independent Age; Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK; Jo McGowan, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs, Centre for Ageing Better.

Former NPC vice president Ellen Lebethe was invited by the four organisations to hand in the 36,000 plus signature petition into No 10.

Group pic of supporters at the petition hand-in by the House of Commons.

Jan said: “We hope the Prime Minister and his government – as well as future governments – take heed of this vital call for a much-needed independent voice for the older people of today, and tomorrow. Our ageing population has never needed representation as much as we do now. The petition is just the next step in our fast growing joint campaign to secure  a Commissioner for England, and indeed Scotland, as they have in Wales and Northern Ireland.”

With one in four people due to be over 65 within ten years, campaigners say that a Commissioner could facilitate the long-term planning that is needed to ensure the economy and society adapts for this demographic shift, enabling more people to age-well.

Representatives from the four organisations were joined by campaigners, who brought placards illustrating a carrier pigeon, walkie talkie, tin can and string, and a megaphone, to show that it shouldn’t be this difficult for older voices to be heard.

Jan commented: “Ageism is a huge barrier to our growing older generation, as is the lack of understanding of the many issues that they face. A Commissioner in England would focus on these challenges to ensure that older people have the chance to live with dignity and respect.

The independent Commissioners for Older People in Wales and Northern Ireland have been successful in achieving positive change in policies that enable older people to be heard and not disadvantaged by party political decisions.

We need a national strategy for ageing well and a Commissioner would engage with Ministers and be the catalyst for government policymakers to take an holistic view of what needs to change for today’s and tomorrow’s older people.”



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