Age Scotland calls for nationwide rollout of Older People's Champions
Published on 15 February 2021 09:03 AM
Age Scotland has joined forces with the Scottish Older People’s Assembly to ask every local authority to appoint an Older People's Champion to amplify older voices across the country.
The national charity for older people is calling on all of Scotland's 32 local authorities to create the role to ensure that older people's voices are heard, their interests catered for and their concerns addressed.
Nine local authorities have already appointed a councillor to the apolitical role but the Age Scotland and SOPA campaign aims to build a network of champions to represent older people's views and identify issues that affect older people locally.
An Older People's Champion would also be involved in communicating council policies that impact older people, including transport, social care, public toilets and community services.
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said:
"The need for Older People's Champions has never been greater. With Scotland's population ageing faster than anywhere else in the UK, it is vital that local decision-making has at its heart the needs of older people.
"Just as the Scottish Government has a dedicated Minister for Older People and Equalities, it is time that councils have a role focused solely on older people.
"We know that many local authority budgets are under pressure, but this role has no budgetary implications and I believe that older people deserve to know someone is standing up for their interests and finding out what they need from local decision makers.
"The impact of COVID-19 on older people has only heightened the case for Older People’s Champions. The pandemic has had devastating effect on many older people who are struggling to cope with record levels of isolation and loneliness.
"As we emerge from the unprecedented challenges of the past year there needs to be a clear recovery plan implemented at local and national level, specifically focused on older people who have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Older People’s Champions would be integral to that, ensuring that older voices are heard and older people are not excluded from our local democracy."
Diana Findley, chairperson of SOPA said:
“We in SOPA are very pleased to be working in partnership with Age Scotland, firstly to applaud the local authorities who have already appointed an Older People’s Champion but also to encourage the others to see the value of such a role and follow suit.
"This is an important ambassadorial role and if all local authorities appointed one of their councillors in such a role it would ensure that older people’s perspectives would be raised in all matters discussed in council.
"Such a network of Older People’s Champions would give older people a stronger voice but also be a space to share knowledge to assist each of the champions in their role.”