At the Care and Support Alliance mass lobby of parliament a couple of months ago, I spent some time briefing Age UK campaigners before they went in to see their MPs. It was lovely to meet so many people who had taken the time and trouble to come to Westminster to make their voices heard.
Some of those I spoke to had done this kind of thing before and were feeling quite confident at getting their points across. For others, it was a new experience. I remember one woman in particular who was very apprehensive at the thought of meeting her high-profile MP. ‘I have to tell you I am really out of my comfort zone on this,’ she said, ‘But I just thought if I didn’t come down to London to tell my MP how important care is, who would?’
I really admired her courage in standing up and speaking out – which is what campaigning is all about. The really good news is when I spoke to her again after she had met her MP, she was a different person, full of confidence. ‘Yes, he really did listen to me,’ she said.
Age UK’s campaigns rely on people like her, who are prepared to take their courage in both hands and stand up and be counted. And we want to celebrate and encourage all campaigners in later life, whatever issue they are campaigning on.
That is why Age UK is supporting the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) in sponsoring the Take Action award for older campaigners again this year.
SMK was set up in memory of the legendary campaigner Sheila McKechnie, and is the only UK registered charity dedicated to connecting, informing and supporting campaigners. The Campaigner Awards are for people who want to make a difference and want some support in getting results.
Last year’s winner of the Take Action award was Kathleen Carter, an inspiring and determined campaigner from Stockton-on-Tees, who has challenged ‘payday loan’ companies who charge massive interest rates for short term loans.
You can read more about Kathleen’s experience here.
In the meantime, if you know of any campaigners who are aged 60+ and deserve recognition and the support that SMK can offer, please nominate them for this year’s Take Action award.