Newsletter 16

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Oct 252014

Issue 16   July 2014




Only last year we celebrated our 250th Member and by the time you receive this newsletter, it looks as though we will beat 500.  Thank you to everyone who has joined SDSAF and to everyone who has brought in a new Member.  You DEFINITELY have made the voice of the over-50s much, much stronger.  We are looking forward to seeing how we cope with doubling our membership again.  Over the next 12 months?  Is that ambitious?


I don’t know if anyone has the full record of all the organisations in the Sevenoaks District that work to help our community. Even VAWK, Voluntary Action Within Kent, might struggle to know all the facts (see ).  Call 01 892 530 330 for information on volunteering throughout the District.  We have had an urgent call for volunteers in Swanley and Hextable from the North West Kent Volunteer Centre (01 322 27 24 76).  They write; ‘The demand for our services is greater than ever, and as a consequence we are extremely short of volunteers in Swanley and Hextable … to give you an example we have 15 people on our Befriending list waiting for companionship and 4 needing garden support’.  Two thoughts here; firstly, do you need some help?  Perhaps the Volunteer Centres can help you.  Secondly, do you have time to spare?  Can you help?  Give VAWK or North West Kent a call.  It could be the best call you’ve made this year.



Thanks to Dr Pav Ramewal, the Chief Executive of Sevenoaks District Council for his presentation to the AGM in which he praised the development and growth of the Seniors Action Forum and pointed out how important we are becoming to the District Council and others as a prime source of understanding about issues relevant to older people.  Dr Ramewal underlined the resources problem that all councils now have and talked of needing to rethink how public services can be delivered.  There will surely be a growing dependency on volunteers and charities.

The Chairman reported on the growth in Membership and of further development.  Committee members find that when they talk to local groups and promote SDSAF at local events and explain what it is about, people are keen to join us.  The Treasurer’s Report for 2013-14 was accepted and colleagues spoke of our projects especially on our health connections.  The current situation with the defibrillators purchased from Big Lottery Fund funds given to SDSAF was described. Merilyn Canet reported on the transport to hospitals survey which had yielded about 200 usable responses.  The Committee and officers were returned en bloc and are joined by Eileen Murray Giles.

SECRETARY’S ROLE    We still need someone to join the committee to help deal with the work of organising meetings and venues.  This important job needs someone who is comfortable with word processing and email and who would be good at keeping the rest of us on our toes.

The Chairman welcomed Diane Aslett who informed the meeting about projects that Age UK is running in westKentto raise awareness of dementia and Wendy McGeachy, Community Development Manager at Voluntary Action within Kent, one of SDSAF’s valued supporting organisations.  Roger Bryan moved that the AGM show appreciation to Sevenoaks District Council for making available such excellent meeting facilities, and for providing refreshments.


Members new to SDSAF had added their concerns to the list but it was good to be able to add that two new members from Westerham didn’t feel they had any real concerns at all but if they worked a bit they would be able to think of some!  Transport and bus passes remain a high presence as does the issue of actually getting to hospital if there is no private travel available.  So, the ability to get about is still high in our priorities.  This freedom helps to prevent isolation and loneliness and that keeps over 50s independent and happier.


TIR-webHumour on the golf course : danger on the road?  Members tell us of their concerns with Kent Highways, Close-up-sign-webmainly pot holes, but the photo on the right shows the driver’s view approaching a local village school.  The small insert photo almost shows the speed restriction sign (30) hidden in the hedge.  All overKentroad signs are now playing Hide and Seek.  (TIR = Transports Internationaux Routiers – something to do with heavy lorries and carrying goods internationally!)


One of our Members contacted us recently to ask us to advise all Members who use the new black pendants from Centra that things are different to how they were with Invicta.  For those who don’t know this service, these are the pendants that you can wear so that you are safer when you are on your own at home.  Our Member tells us that the Centra pendant doesn’t work in quite the same way as the old Invicta pendant.  We are still investigating the differences so suggest that if you have the new pendant, don’t get concerned about it but find out how it will work for you in and around your home and what the differences are from the old pendant.  More when we find out more.


Come along to our next Committee Meeting at South East Dance, the Oasis Academy, Egerton Road, Hextable; 10 am on the 25th July 2014 and sit in, and contribute, to the way SDSAF runs.

Health-Help-Now-Poster-WEBHEALTH HELP NOW

You may see this poster from now on.  It’s all part of the NHS explaining where we can get advice if and when our GP surgeries are closed.

Throughout the District, for an EMERGENCY dial 999 as always but if it’s not an emergency call 111 or ask your local pharmacists for advice.

Pick up one of these leaflets at your pharmacy or surgery and keep it handy at home.


…from Swanley Food Bank

It’s always good to have feedback. A young man dropped into the food bank last week, brought in by one of the churches in Swanley District Churches Together. He was being supported by the church while tackling an addiction problem and was honest enough to tell us that he had just spent a short spell in prison. Life is a bit on the back foot for this young man at the moment and he was genuinely grateful for the food issued against the docket. I asked him if I could share this with you and he agreed.

The next day, I popped into the food bank to issue an emergency food box and found that apparently, on a Wednesday when the food bank isn’t open, we share an office with the Crime Reduction Initiative. This was news to me but every little helps, right? This organization is supporting the young man while he gets on his feet and its representative was very enthusiastic about Swanley District Food Bank because he’d heard all about us from the young man concerned. Plans are now on going for the Crime Reduction Initiative to hold vouchers for the food bank.

I wonder if someone will offer this man a job?


Londonpensioners have free rail/underground/DLR/tram travel in the Londonarea but older people living outside Londononly have free, slow and often infrequent bus travel.  Age, gender and race discrimination is illegal but with travel concessions for older people, it depends where you live.  Londonpensioners’ “FreedomPass” is regarded as a right and a lifeline by Londonpeople whereas outside Londonthe very idea of pensioners’ free rail travel is regarded as expensive.  Why?  There is a system known as formula funding – i.e. the government grant to Londonis roughly 2½ times more than the grant to South East councils outside London.  Also note that (a) the comparable council tax is lower in all but two London boroughs than it is in Sevenoaks and (b) Sevenoaks District Council receives some £30 million in business tax annually, but is only allowed to keep a tiny amount – this year £4 million.  The rest goes elsewhere e.g. London.

Does one NEED free daily travel?  I have suggested a compromise of 100 days annually free travel for rail/bus (and underground/DLR/tram in London) for pensioners wherever they live, and I have written letters over the years to the MP, county councillors and Age UK.  Numbers of letters from different individuals are always helpful, so why not write today?  Contact: or Rt. Hon Michael Fallon MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.        Diane Beamish

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