I was delighted that my first invitation to speak to a residents’ group in Sutton was from Age UK who are an important lynchpin in our local community. Last week I attended their annual review meeting where they showcased their wide variety of services ranging from offering advice on switching energy suppliers to volunteers acting as Helping Hands, doing chores around the home and offering company. For many people my age, we don’t notice the extraordinary work that is being carried out without fanfare, supporting our ageing population. According to the 2011 census figures Sutton has the 4th highest proportion of retired people in the outer London boroughs and so we need to ensure that we have a support structure in place to address areas where State provision and modern family support often falls short including loneliness.
I spoke to the One Voice for Age Sutton group; twenty or so local residents who meet regularly to discuss issues around local healthcare, transport and other services that are of particular interest to older people. I talked about what I did and my life experiences that had shaped my priorities of healthcare in Sutton, enough school places for our children and building a thriving local economy. Questions from the group reflected their knowledge of local issues and their dedication in seeing some of those concerns addressed, ranging from bus services to Kingston Hospital, the future of St Helier, localised health services provided by the Jubilee Health Centre in Shotfield, Wallington and Stanley Park High School in Carshalton.
Most questions I could answer, others I took away to find the right person to ask. After all none of us want another politician who will offer flannel rather than substance. The politician’s default position of blustering through everything was why Peter Ustinov never considered a political career, saying, “I did not become a politician because I could not stand the strain of being right all of the time.”
If you are interested in getting involved with Age UK, either as an older person who may be interested in their services or someone that is able to volunteer in a friendly environment with rewarding work, do get in touch with Marion Harper and her team via the contact details on the Age UK website.