Does your councillor deserve an award?

Sue Cooley
Sue Cooley from Manchester City Council, who won the Age UK Councillor Award in 2012

Do you know who your councillor is? Councillors are elected by all of us and can have a big impact on our community, but do we appreciate and acknowledge what they do?

Councillors really can have a huge impact on our communities. They are key players when coordinating people from the public, private, and voluntary sectors and they can provide a voice for those who would otherwise go unheard.

In recognition of this important role, Age UK is working with the Local Government and Information Unit (LGiU) to sponsor the Age UK Councillor Award as part of the 2013 C’llr Achievement Awards.

The Age UK award will be given to a councillor who has made a significant contribution to improving services or neighbourhoods in the area they represent, so as to benefit older people. It could be campaigning for better lighting, arranging more seating or increasing the number of public toilets.
Continue reading “Does your councillor deserve an award?”

Guest blog – LGiU C’llr awards winner!

This blog was contributed by Sue Cooley from Manchester City Council, the winner of the Age UK award  category of the LGiU Councillor Achievement Awards. This award recognises the achievements of a councillor who has championed the interests of older people in their community. 

I have been a councillor since 1996 representing Brooklands ward in the city of Manchester. My role as lead member for Valuing Older People (VOP) and more recently the Age Friendly Manchester Programme began in the last years of the 1990s. At that time I worked closely with the then deputy leader of the council  to develop an approach which said that the role of local authorities shouldn’t begin and end with its social care responsibilities, recognising that the vast majority of older residents -however we define them, do not get a social care services. Moreover, especially in a city like Manchester, many older people faced exclusion from a range of everyday services and activities.

This approach found an echo in the Better Government for Older People Awardsprogramme championed by the Labour Government in the late 1990s. When ground breaking research into ageing in cities (including Manchester) was published in 2002 it coincided with the council’s new project called Valuing Older People which was launched officially in 2003.

Since then VOP has grown from a modest project based in the Manchester Joint Health Unit to a wide ranging programme acknowledged as being innovative but at the same time rooted in Manchester communities. Continue reading “Guest blog – LGiU C’llr awards winner!”

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?”

Councillors achieving Pride of Place

Last week the shortlist was announced by the LGiU for the Age UK Pride of Place Award. The award, which is one of the LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards 2012, recognises a councillor who has taken the lead in championing the voices of older people in their patch and made a real commitment to improving neighbourhoods for them.

The shortlisted councillors are:

  • Councillor Sue Cooley (Manchester City Council)
  • Councillor Edward Davie (London Borough of Lambeth Council)
  • Councillor Olwen Foggin (Devon County Council)
  • Councillor Robert Johnston (Winchester City Council)
  • Councillor Howard Murray (Poynton Town Council)

Each of them, in very different ways and very different areas, has shown real commitment to listening to the views and needs of older people and then bringing about long-term change to their areas.

As I have highlighted on this blog over the last year, good neighbourhoods are key to helping older people get out and about and stay active as they get older. Things like broken pavements, street lights which don’t work, and public transport which isn’t accessible or available at all, place barriers in the way of people who want to stay active as they grow older.

The key insight of Age UK’s Pride of Place campaign is that local elected members have a pivotal role to play in bringing about neighbourhood improvements. They are the only people with both the local knowledge and the democratic accountability.

Through the campaign, nearly 200 councillors have demonstrated their commitment to improving neighbourhoods by signing up as Pride of Place advocates. 

This week we also held the first of five support sessions for these advocates. It was a lively session where we exchanged ideas and wrestled with problems such as how to provide accessible public toilets in the current financial climate and how to influence public transport providers. A recurrent theme was the importance of getting communities involved in solving their own problems.

The good news in all this is that change is possible – as the five shortlisted councillors show, improvements can happen. The award winner will be announced at a ceremony at Westminster City Council on 27 February: watch this space.

And if you are a councillor who wants to bring about improvements to your local area, why not sign up as a Pride of Place advocate now?

Find out more about Age UK’s Pride of Place campaign

Do you know a councillor who deserves an award?

Recent research for Age UK showed that more than half of people over the age of 60 say they have never had contact with their local councillor. Yet despite this lack of contact, nearly twice as many over 60s can name their councillor as can younger people, and when they do have contact, older people are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome.

Councillors have a vital role to play in local life, and can make a big difference. That’s why Age UK is working with LGiU and CCLA to sponsor the Age UK Pride of Place award  as part of the 2012 LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards. The award will be given to a councillor who champions the voices of older people in their ward or division and makes a real commitment to improving neighbourhoods for them.

Broken pavements, street lights which don’t work, the need for more seating, the perennial problem of poor public  transport, these are all ‘bread and butter’ issues for most councillors. They are also key issues for older people.

Age UK’s Pride of Place report, shows how relatively low cost improvements to neighbourhoods can enable older people to go on getting out and about and being active for longer. Continue reading “Do you know a councillor who deserves an award?”