Wednesday, 4 November 2009

50plus Forum Annual Event

More than 150 people have attended Carmarthenshire 50+ Forum’s annual event held at the new Ffos Las Race Course in Trimsaran.

A full programme was laid on for the morning including a talk by Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Ruth Marks, a theatre production on bogus callers by Cwmni’r Fedwen and exhibitions, all on themes of interest to older people.

Delegates also took part in workshops on a range of subjects – community safety, leisure, Welsh language, benefit entitlements, independent living, and sustainable communities.

Carmarthenshire 50+ Champion Cllr Kevin Madge opened the event and Carmarthenshire County Council assistant chief executive Chris Burns described the progress made over the last year.

Cllr Madge said a lot had been achieved since he became 50+ Champion in June 2008, and was delighted that the 50+ Forum now had a membership of over 1,000 people and was steadily increasing. This was a clear recognition of how people wanted to work together with the council and other organisations to improve services. A number of actions had been taken forward including the expansion across the whole county of the Garden Tidy scheme in which supervised young offenders clear the gardens of older people who have no-one to help them.
Mr Burns said that the older persons’ strategy in Carmarthenshire aimed to be a voice and advocate for older people and to challenge people’s perceptions.

”We had meetings in Llanelli and Carmarthen and they nominated a steering group of 19 people who are your representatives. Throughout the year they have met people responsible for bus services, health services and leisure in Carmarthenshire and lobbied on your behalf. As a result of discussion the qualifying age for the Young at Heart scheme was reduced from 65 to 50.”

Ruth Marks gave a brief outline of her role and future objectives and then reported that the main issues raised with her by older people related to money and payment for services, information about and access to services, and the lack of dignity and respect that older people sometimes face.

Members of the Forum raised issues of social isolation in rural areas, the distance to travel to community facilities and the importance of adult education. These and many other questions were raised with the Commissioner and responses will be included in a conference report which will be drafted shortly.

Steering group member Andrew Kurzfeld said after the event: “It was very successful and identified a number of important areas affecting older people. There is plenty for the steering group to work on over the next year.

“We need joined up thinking in the provision of services, such as leisure facilities and transport.”

To join the 50+ Forum, please contact Ruth Lake on 01267 234567.


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