Thursday, 8 September 2016

Green Seniors’ meeting at GP conference 3/9/2016

Green Seniors’ meeting at GP conference 3/9/2016
Notes/report by Peter Murry (also incorporates some views expressed at the GS conference stall)

There were about 20 present. P.M. introduced GS explaining that it was a relatively new section of the Green Party which was in the process of getting organised, so it needed to collect details from those interested to form an email list and also to collect ideas about the issues which concerned its members.
Currently GS had 3 officers: London Co-Chair: Maureen Childs (greeenseniors@greenparty.org.uk), London Co-Chair: Noel Lynch (noellynch@lineone.net) and Acting Secretary: Peter Murry (yrrumuk@googlemail.com), who met in London;

Next meeting date and time tba at the Green Room 10 Grand Arcade Tally Ho Corner North Finchley, London N12 0EH
GS web presence was website http://www.greenseniors.co.uk/, blog at:.greenseniors.blogspot.co.uk.  

Green Seniors was affiliated to the National Pensioners’ Convention (http://npcuk.org/).  P.M. recommended the NPC and the TUC (https://www.tuc.org.uk/), as campaigning organisations for Seniorswhich organised meetings, produced publications etc. Next NPC activity Demos planned for UN Older People’s Day 1 October 2016 (http://greenseniors.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/demos-planned-for-un-older-peoples-day.html)


TOPICS RAISED IN DISCUSSION
1)    AGE LIMITS FOR GREEN SENIORS
The meeting agreed that although GS should be concerned with issues mainly, but not exclusively, concerning people aged 50+, membership should be open to GP members of all ages. I t was noted that some people under 50 might be concerned with ‘senior’ issues because of being carers or of working with seniors, (for instance).
2)    ACCESS TO PUBLIC FACILITIES ESPECIALLY TRANSPORT
Generally it was felt that were many deficiencies affecting older people, especially those with disabilities, Montreal and Ljubljana were mentioned as places with better provision.
Specifically mentioned:
·        Accessible public toilets
·        Boarding/exiting buses and trains; drivers do not always use the facility to lower buses/ are sometimes unhelpful. Steep steps to board coaches esp. Megabus
·        Payments for senior and disabled rail and coach cards, vs  automatic discounts in parts of Europe
·        Increase of unmanned stations and ticket office closures meant it could be difficult to get help.

3)    USE OF TRANSPORT
·        Buses going over traffic calming road humps at speed could be dangerous and uncomfortable
·        On the other hand traffic calming probably was safer for slow moving pedestrians

4)    LEGIBILITY OF NOTICES/DOCUMENTS
·        Rail tickets
·        Some GP literature

5)    ONLINE EXCLUSION
·        Moves to ticket free travel, assumed everyone could access and use online devices and/or broadband, but this was not economically or physically possible for some people.
·        Moves to cash free payments posed similar problems: cash and cheques were more manageable and understandable for some.
·        Online voting could also be problematic.
·        GP website difficult to use.
·        Moves to digitisation allowed job cuts whilst often worsening customer service.
·        Frequent software updates and inbuilt obsolescence of older software usually complicated matters for users whilst enriching manufacturers.

6)    HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE
·        Problems with social workers legally forcing elderly relatives into care, some recommended seeking Power of attorney but this was not always a wholly satisfactory solution.
·        Hospital food often inadequate without proper allowances for diabetic and other l diets

7)    HOUSING
·        Tendency to ghettoise seniors and make assumptions about what was ’best’ for them eg: some seniors actually preferred to live in properly maintained tower blocks on grounds of security. Montreal mentioned as providing a variety of housing provision.

8)    CULTURAL/ POLITICAL

·        Recognition of the economic contribution of seniors: eg voluntary work, public service, politics. Generating employment for others.
·        Rejection of ideas like “burden of dependency” which stereotype seniors as unproductive “spongers”.
·        Recognition of the cultural and practical experience of seniors ‘knowledge and experience eg: remembering what a Welfare state and nationalised industries were like, knowing how Trade Unions work and what they are for.

ACTIONS
·        Create and extend a Green Seniors’ email list.
·        Collect views and ideas for Green Seniors’ campaigns and activities
·        Ideas for topic/speaker for a fringe at the next GP conference (which will include a European Green conference).
·        Liaise with other relevant GP groups esp.: GP Disability Group

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