‘Give us a voice in Government’ – Sunderland’s older people demand their own Minister

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A PROPOSAL to introduce a minister for older people has received the backing of residents at a sheltered housing scheme in Sunderland.

As the House of Commons debated the idea, those living at Pickersgill House, in Red House, said they felt they should be better represented in the corridors of power.

The proposal reached the floor of the Commons after a selection of backbench MPs from all the major parties gave their support to a campaign organised by Anchor Trust, which runs Pickersgill House and other such facilities across the city.

Residents unanimously backed a petition sent to Downing Street last summer and are cautiously optimistic about the campaign’s progress.

Harriet Hughes, 86, believes more thought should be given to those older people who have endeavoured, through a lifetime of saving, to make their retirement a comfortable one.

She said: “We’ve worked, we’ve got our pensions and I always thought I’d be comfortable, but they’re taking it all off us.

“I saved up to be comfortable, but now I’m no better off than anyone else, once I’ve paid for everything.

“You’re terrified even to die because what you’ve saved and your insurance policies won’t cover your funeral. That just shouldn’t be.

“You want someone there who is really interested in helping, somebody who really cares.”

Betty Hansen, 77, said that she feels “penalised” by Government policy, while Doris Ramsay said: “Somebody representing us would be good, we might be able to get better services.”

Centre manager Jean Agnew, 49, agreed with the residents’ sentiments that anyone appointed to the role would have to have the best interests of the elderly at heart.

She said: “They need someone to stand up for them and that person needs to be held accountable by the elderly.

“Everything’s getting cut and it affects everyone, not just the elderly, but they are the most vulnerable.

“There are loads of provisions you could bring in for the elderly, like transport to hospital appointments, but they don’t.

“A lot of people now are even refusing care because of having to pay for other things. If there was somebody there to represent the elderly, the Government would know what people are needing.”

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