So, what have we managed to do?

Since its beginning in the Autumn of 2010, 

the Sevenoaks District Seniors Action Forum has been guided by one aim:

WE WANTED TO HELP IMPROVE THE LIVES OF OLDER PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT.

After 6 years of existence, the Sevenoaks District Seniors Action Forum has grown from a handful of Members at the initial meeting to over a thousand in 2016.  It is time we took stock and questioned ourselves on what, if anything, we have achieved.

This newsletter mainly looks at what we have achieved although we have managed to get some of our usual news paragraphs in as well!

We believe that our work has helped to improve the life of older people in the District but we know that the more Members we have, the more effective we can be, however, we need help. 

SDSAF is now so big that we need more people to help run the organisation.  Don’t be shy if you think you might like to offer to help.  NONE OF US KNEW HOW ANYTHING WORKED WHEN WE FIRST STARTED. WE ARE HOWEVER ALIVE AND KICKING AND WE HAVE LEARNT.  WE WILL HELP YOU LEARN IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP.

We are an ACTION FORUM so we need people who are willing to take action – that might mean writing the occasional letter or email to the NHS, the Councils, our MP, the bus companies, it could mean doing other things like researching the facts for a campaign.  It could mean almost whatever you want it to mean.  More later!

STOP PRESS 1… at the AGM in May (more info later in this newsletter) you can meet the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, one year into his job.  What has he achieved?

STOP PRESS 2… VERY NASTY SCAM happening at the moment – Two people knock on the door and pose as the Police.  One keeps you talking, the other ransacks your house.   Even if they look like the Police -  CHECK!

Will we see you at one of the village fetes this year?

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS

WE NEEDED DECISION MAKERS TO KNOW ABOUT US Our successes are;

1.  More people and Departments of Kent County Council know about us.

2    Sevenoaks District Council know about us.

3   Most of our Parish Councils know about us.

4   The Big Lottery Fund knows about us.

5 Our range of partners has grown through attending fetes and other events.

6. Our newsletter distribution list to decision makers and opinion formers has grown.

WE HAD TO BE big enough for decision makers to LISTEN TO us  Our success is;

7  Reaching 1,000 members (September 2016 – 6 years after our institution)

WE NEEDED PARTNERSHIPS WITH DECISION MAKERSOur successes are;

8. By invitation of Sevenoaks District Council, we are members of the Local Strategic Plan Older Persons Sub-Committee – this is a sub-committee of the District Council which directly contributes to the Local Strategic Plan, the top level planning document for the Council.

9 By invitation of Sevenoaks District Council, we are members of the Access Group which looks at how people of all abilities can gain access to all they need.

10 By our own efforts we are being influential in the relationship between the Older Peoples Forums in Kent and the County Council.  We have held meetings with the most senior County Councillors responsible for all matters that concern older people.

11.  We attended a Select Committee of the County Council (discussing transport matters), the highest level of involvement that is possible.

WE NEEDED DIRECT ACTION TO IMPROVE THE LIFE OF OLDER PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT.

Our successes are;

12  Project Defibrillator – we funded, through a Big Lottery grant, defibrillators in seven parishes in Sevenoaks District, co-funded with the Lions Club the defib in the foyer of the Stag and helped raise the profile of the need for defibs throughout the District.

13. We influenced the District Council to hold the Second Inquiry into the Broomhill development in Swanley after the first had been held inconveniently in Sevenoaks.

14 We have held or been involved in numerous meetings both formal and informal with politicians at all levels where we have discussed our Members’ concerns. We are in regular communication with our MP who knows SDSAF and our large membership very well.

15 We have built relationships with several senior local government officers so as to ensure that the needs of older are understood by them.  They are then better placed to influence the politicians.

16  We have taken opportunities to influence decision makers on the travel and transport needs of older people.  One of our most active Members has done a wonderful job in holding local bus companies to account.  Another is a constant thorn in the side to our politicians on the need for a better way to deal with the transport needs of older people.

17  We hold meetings with local County Councillors and with our District Chief Executive.

We continue to add to our achievements,

this newsletter will barely be published before the list will be out of date

- it will have have grown.  

AGM 2017

Wednesday 24th May 2017 at 2pm

We are VERY pleased to announce that the main guest speaker at the AGM this year will be Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent.  This year we will meet at the offices of Sevenoaks Town Council, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks TN13 3QG.

Members have consistently told us that one of their main concerns is crime.  As time has gone by, there has been much mention of the numbers of police officers visible on the streets and on the way that the Police do or do NOT attend when called to a crime scene or concern.  This will be your chance to talk to the Commissioner himself one year into his new job.  What has he done, what is he doing? What can we expect next?

This will be a Members only event so if your neighbours want to come along too, help them to register as Members!

Would you like to edit this newsletter?  Do you have journalism/writing skills?  Get in touch – we need you!

Help PleaseThe Action Forum needs new blood!  It doesn’t matter how well something has been working, it is very easy to go to stale and go off the boil.  If we want to keep growing and keep influencing the decision makers, we need new energy with new ideas.  Maybe YOU could supply those?  You wouldn’t be on your own.  You would get lots of help from the ‘old hands’.  The people who run the Forum were all strangers to each other when we first met.  How does the song go?  ‘A stranger is just a friend you haven’t yet met’?

IS THIS THE CHALLENGE YOU HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR SINCE YOU RETIRED?

Across the years, we have asked new Members if they might like to join the Committees who run SDSAF.  If you have offered, NOW is the time to put your offer into operation.  Contact any of the people below to help.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN AN ISSUE GROUP OR A LOCAL GROUP?  CONTACT US

 

Newsletter 25.      November 2016

1004

Congratulations to All our Members   SDSAF Membership topped 1000 in September 2016. There’s strength in unity and with over 1000 members decision makers in local government or the NHS need to listen to what we have to say.

Your House? or Your Home?    Somewhere to live is a basic human need.   For those who are lucky enough, where you have lived for some time has become your home.  We look for stability and we only want to move from our homes to new places if it’s that’s what we want to do.  Sadly, life doesn’t work out well for everyone and circumstances can mean that home owners have to sell and landlords might require tenants to move. One of the housing problems that SDSAF Members have told us about when we meet them is downsizing.  Many of us are living in houses which are now too big but is there somewhere the right size to go to? What happens to rooms full of furniture, ornaments, and memories. Is anything valuable?  Whom can we trust?  Recently, we have had a problem shared with us about elderly tenants losing their homes.  More to come.

Swanley Local Group   We want to start a local group in Swanley to look at the redevelopment of the town.  We need to make sure that the concerns of older people are taken into consideration before the builders move in.

Local Groups can do some very straight forward practical work too!  For example, when SDSAF comes to a village fete near you, it would be really helpful if some Members can come along to raise our gazebo. To be comfortable, we need four people to help with this task at the beginning of the day and again at the end. The last such event of the year will be Sevenoaks Lights on November 25th.  It’s a lovely evening, with lots going on and well worth coming to.  Helping us set up  and clear up would be really helpful.  Next year, we will put the list of events we hope to attend into a newsletter so that everyone has the dates well in advance.

Toilet Problems   Jean Bentley from New Ash Green highlighted this issue in Newsletter 23.  Quite SDSAF Loorightly, she pointed out that the decline in numbers of public loos is a real problem for many people.  Local Councils are not required by law to provide and maintain public toilets and have chosen to save money by not having them.  But local authorities do many things that they are not required by law to do and so the lack of support for loos is a straight forward political decision. If you think that they should choose to have them then you need to campaign. Jean thinks that SDSAF could start an Issue Group on Public Toilets by talking to Patient Participation Groups in the District. It’s not a glamorous subject but if you are imprisoned at home because there’s nowhere for you ‘to go’ when you go out then email Jean at jeanbentley51@gmail.com or via the contacts on the back page.  Jean would be particularly pleased to hear from our 55 Ash and New Ash Green Members and is happy to organise a get together.  If you would like to campaign in your village, get in touch with us and we will help you.

KCC Consultation on Bus Services   On 28th October, SDSAF Members Veronica McGannon, Brian Gasson, Diana Beamish, Jean Bentley and Frank McConnell went to County Hall to discuss the issue of bus services with County officers and County Councillors. We had been invited by KCC officials because they had become aware of the strength of our Seniors Action Forum and that we spend a lot of time listening to our Members and the public at the events we attend.  There’s a lot of information from the meeting which will feature in the next newsletter but please be aware that a Bus Transport Bill going through Parliament right now.  This is very important if buses are important to you.  Find out what you can about it and write to your MP with your point of view.  In November, a User Service Questionnaire on buses is coming out.  We must ensure that as many people as possible respond to it.  In December, there will be a public meeting at County Hall on Transport which we should attend.

Cheaper Fuel this Winter?Fuel companies do not get a great press but even so people are so often afraid of changing their supplier. If you lived between two shops each selling exactly the same loaf of bread would you shop at the one that charges you 20 per cent more than the other one?  We waste an awful lot of money buying our gas and electricity from companies who charge too much.  The District Council’s Switch and Save service is really worth looking at.  http://www.sevenoaksswitchandsave.co.uk 

Kent County Council ConsultationsThe Chairman, Frank McConnell, met with senior officers from Kent CC in October to discuss the lack of available information on the cost of consultations.  SDSAF Members want to know if anyone pays any heed to what the public say.  Frank was told that there is a move in KCC to show that they are listening by highlighting the differences between initial  proposals and final decisions.  SDSAF would be happy with a ‘You Said – We Did’ approach which shows that changes have been made because of consultations.

World Mental Health Day 2016   … on Monday 10 October had the  theme “Dignity in Mental Health”. Contact hello@westkentmind.org.uk or on 01732 744950

Forthcoming EventsTue 29 Nov Mental Health Awareness

Tue 6 Dec   Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Tue 24 Jan Jasmine Tonbridge

Tue 24 Jan Life Coaching Sevenoaks

Fri 27 Jan Mental Health Awareness

Fri 10 Feb Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Conditions of Employment

From 1854, comes this staff room rule

poster – if they had staff rooms of course!  They certainly had rules.

 Was it Really Like this in the 60s?

SDSAF at the Sevenoaks Lights on November 25th   Come along and hello to us in Sevenoaks High Street.  Help us put up the gazebo around 5pm and/or take it down later.  Tell us what’s bothering you right now.

Should I go to A&E?  or Ask the Chemist?   We all know that hospital resources are poor and that unnecessary attendance at A&E makes life very difficult for people who have a genuine emergency. So how do you know whether you should go to A&E, the Doctor or the Chemist for help and advice?  It can be difficult and in an emergency, don’t hesitate!  Call 999. 

Following a survey, the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges (which represents all 21 Royal medical colleges) has publicised a list of 40 treatments that have little or no value.  Of five hundred doctors surveyed; 83 per cent had prescribed or carried out unnecessary treatments.  60% doctors felt pressurised by patients proscribing treatments because they feared litigation.  20% of cases involved antibiotics, 16 per cent related to X-rays, and 14 per cent to CT scans or blood tests.

Are You Entitled to Extra Winter Help?  Winter can be a tough time. But there’s help available, especially for those on low incomes…

Winter Fuel Payments. If you were born on or before 5 May 1953, regardless of your income, you’re eligible for the up-to-£300 one-off winter fuel payment. If you get certain benefits, e.g. state pension, pension credit or jobseeker’s allowance, you’ll usually get it automatically – otherwise you may have to claim.

Warm Home Discount. If you were on pension credit on 10 Jul, you’ll get an automatic one-off £140 rebate on your electricity bill sometime between Oct and Apr, unless you’re with some smaller energy firms. If you’ve a prepay or pay-as-you-go meter you won’t get it automatically, apply before 28 Feb 17.

Cold Weather Payments.  Anyone on certain benefits, e.g. specific income support/jobseeker’s allowance/pension credit, gets £25 for every 7 consecutive days the temperature goes below zero after 1 Nov. It’s paid automatically.

Choosing between heating and eating? If you’re seriously behind, or in general financial hardship, you may be eligible for special tariffs/help. Try the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 for England. Ask Sevenoaks District Council for information on Housing and Energy Grants and Debt Help.

Thanks to all our partners

Would you like to edit this newsletter?  Do you have journalism/writing skills?  Get in touch – we need you!

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