A political certainty in 2015? From Localism to Devolution

This week we have a blog post from Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser, at Age UK. 

Even before the Scottish referendum campaign, there was a growing surge of interest in more devolution. It is a theme supported by all of the political parties. It is presented as the most promising way to get appropriate policies and practices implemented across areas and communities with widely varying needs, and also as a key to local economic regeneration and growth.

The early days of the Coalition were characterised by an enthusiasm for localism and the Big Society, and the burst of legislative activity linked to this was in some respects the harbinger of the deeper devolution idea. Conservative distain for ‘big government’ and Liberal instincts for local democracy came together serendipitously.   We had local government given a ‘general power of competence’, and neighbourhoods were empowered to develop local plans (to address spatial planning and planning permission issues) and eventually to draw up neighbourhood or community budgets. We have the Community Right to Challenge (for the delivery of public services), the Community Right to Build (if approved by a local referendum), and the Right to Bid for community assets. Continue reading “A political certainty in 2015? From Localism to Devolution”

Who are the older digitally excluded?

This blog was contributed by David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion, at Age Age UK.

For many years, local and national organisations have been working to support individuals learn how to use computers. Despite many good initiatives and easier to use technology, new approaches are needed to reach and support those at risk of being increasingly cut off from the public and commercial service offers which assume both access and the skills to use their products.

That this remains primarily an older person’s issue is no surprise, but most older people have joined the digital age and many are competent. Those who have been left out, or have chosen to be left out, are not a homogenous group with one catch-all solution.440x210-two-men-laughing-computer

The traditional approach of marketing the benefits of being online has a role, but will continue to miss the mark for the majority of ‘digitally excluded’ older people. With so many simply not seeing any relevance of engaging with technology to them, the benefits should be seamed through everyday interventions and social activities so that older people can make choices based on a better knowledge of how this technology can enhance their unique combination of interests and circumstances. Continue reading “Who are the older digitally excluded?”

The importance of libraries in rural areas

This blog was contributed by Alan Wylie on behalf of Voices for the Library

Joan_reading_WEBLibraries are seen by many as a lifeline and a crucial public service, especially if you are elderly, socially isolated, poor, vulnerable, or all of the above.

In rural areas, the local library, along with the village hall, pub and shop, is the focal point of community life. It’s a safe, trusted place for meeting friends and neighbours, a place for learning, information and leisure and sometimes just a place to keep warm.

If a community is unfortunate enough not to have a static library, then mobile/housebound services fill the gap, helping those that are most isolated.

Let’s look at the data:

Continue reading “The importance of libraries in rural areas”

Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people

This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).

Rural image 1This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”

Is your councillor a star?

Do you know an amazing councillor? Have they worked hard to listen to older people and improve their neighbourhood? Do they deserve recognition for their work?

Nominations are now open for the Age UK award which forms part of the LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards 2013. This is an award for Councillors who have put older people at the heart of their work, bringing about long lasting change for older people in their communities.

Last year’s winner was Councillor Olwen Foggin of Devon County Council who was nominated after her tireless work reinstating a much needed bus route to the local hospital, fighting the closure of a post box that would have meant that older people needed to walk further to the nearest post office, and responding to individual concerns raised by older residents. Continue reading “Is your councillor a star?”

Guest blog – Working together to curb the cold weather

This guest blog was contributed by the Age Action Alliance

Last week, a new kind of partnership came of age at Age UK.  The Age Action Alliance – the network for partnership working and practical action to improve later life – celebrated its first anniversary with a ‘winter warmth’ themed Parliamentary reception.

It is just over a year since the Cabinet’s Social Justice Committee asked Age UK to help promote cross sector collaborative action on ageing, providing joint Secretariat with the Department for Work and Pensions. The Alliance is a vehicle to develop society’s response to demographic change, encouraging collaboration and recognising that there are areas where systemic success cannot be achieved by any single sector or organisation. Over 260 organisations are now members of this unique network. Continue reading “Guest blog – Working together to curb the cold weather”

Police and Crime Commissioners

In terms of elections, this week’s chance to vote for Police and Crime Commissioners in your local police force area may not be up there with deciding the next leader of the free world, but in their own way the elections are significant.

This will be the first time that voters will have had the opportunity to elect Commissioners, who will be accountable for how crime is tackled in their area. Apart from London, where the Mayor has taken on the powers of a Commissioner, every police force in England and Wales will gain a new elected leader.

Crime is a major cause of concern to older people and fear of crime can increase isolation. But there is also evidence that older victims often experience ill health and reduced wellbeing, particularly if they are subjected to crimes such as distraction burglaries, which often target older people.

Photo: elliott.bledsoe (Creative Commons)

At present, older people’s experiences and views do not adequately inform crime reduction, so if Police and Crime Commissioners are to ensure their community safety and crime reduction services tackle crime affecting older people, they need to take time to find out their views and act on them. Continue reading “Police and Crime Commissioners”