Current Newsletter


Newsletter 23  April/May 2016


The SDSAF Committee hereby give notice that the 2016 AGM will be held on Friday May 27th from 2pm to 4pm at White Oak Indoor Bowls Club, Garrolds Close BR8 &BF (off Hilda May Avenue), Swanley.   

Members may remember that we were badly let down last year by County Councillors with a responsibility for older people who agreed to speak to us but then ‘were not available’.  This year, we are very happy to announce that our speaker will be Councillor Peter Fleming OBE (pictured left), Leader, Sevenoaks District Council and Deputy Chairman, Local Government Association.  We have asked Peter specifically to reassure us that Councils and Councillors really do listen to their local community, that decisions have not already been made, and that consultations really do mean consultations!

ENTRY FOR MEMBERS ONLY.  Please let our Membership Secretary, Roger Bryan, know that you are coming along.  Contact details on the yellow panel on the final page.

The Bowls Club is a 5 minute walk from Swanley Centre, and next to White Oak Leisure Centre.  There is some parking.  The 233 bus from Swanley Centre stops in Hilda May Avenue.

CONSULTATIONS  SDSAF contacted KCC twice to ask for more information on the recently closed Libraries consultation.  Consultations are often handled by an external company so you have to be Sherlock to find the KCC decision maker behind them.  We are persistent and found that person who told us that the consultation cost over £15,000.  We don’t know whether the consultation process made any difference to the decision which is that Kent Libraries are being handed over to a Libraries Trust. Sevenoaks District Council did something similar with their swimming pools and leisure centres creating SENCIO.

We promise our Members that we do our best to influence decision makers and by taking part in these consultations we try to deliver that promise.  SDSAF automatically receives invites to comment on many issues.  This internet based system ( may be available through your local library.

SDSAF AT VILLAGE FETES AND FAIRS  Watch out for our blue gazebo around the District.  We now have 863 Members and we really should do something special for our 1000th Member (sometime this year?) 

HEADWAY WEST KENT  The charity Headway West Kent supports people who have acquired a brain injury.  Kate Hasted runs a drop in at The Stag coffee shop twice a month.   They can offer one to one help and have a centre in Tunbridge Wells.  When families suddenly have to deal with great changes in life, they often do not know where to turn.  If you are in this position, Headway will try to help you.  Kate Hasted is on 01892 619 001 or

THE HIDDEN DISABILITY  Having listened to ‘Women’s Hour’ followed by reading the SDSAF Newsletter, I am inspired to write.  Apparently, according to the guest on WH, there is greater provision of loos for men than women. I can well  believe it, although, frankly, I think that for both sexes the provision is very poor in England. Why can small villages in Wales manage to keep their public loos open when England cannot?

As a keen walker, I am always pleased to arrive at a village when nature calls. However, I recently walked to Otford, only to find the notice, ‘The Vandals Have Won’, on the closed door. Are there no vandals in my country of birth?  Apparently, Scotland too provide loos in remote places.

Surely, if loos are closed in the early evening, they could be secured from vandalism.  I am lucky enough not to suffer from incontinence but I know too many people who do, hence the heading; and anyway, I still need to go sometimes!

What encouragement is this for people to walk to their local shops, let alone keep fit by following some of our wonderful  footpaths?

Until his dying day my Dad went to ’Spend a penny’.  I would happily spend 10p rather than see such vital facilities close.Jean Bentley

DISABLED ACCESS  Committee members Merilyn Canet and Medina Hall are now both on the Disabled Access Group at Sevenoaks District Council.  This group does exactly what it says on the tin, informing and influencing councillors on the needs of people who have some difficulties whether it be walking or seeing or whatever.  This is one of the groups that SDSAF talks to when our members tell us of the difficulties they have with public services.  Obviously, the councillors on the group bear in mind what they have been told when they come to make decisions on services provided by private companies too.

CHAIR BASED EXERCISE  This is a great idea! Exercise doesn’t have to be about walking ten miles or running up a sweat while wearing athletic kit. If you are feeling a bit stiff, then a gentle session makes far more sense.  Dementia Friendly Kent 0800 500 30 14 may be able to help.

AUTISM  Have you seen the gripping ‘The A Word’ on TV in which a family come to terms with an autistic child?  As usual, when someone in a family has to deal with something big, everybody in the family is drawn in.  Contact for further details. The Kent Autistic Trust is on 01634 40 516 68 or

HOME LIBRARY SERVICE  This really useful KCC Library service can help you if you cannot actually get to a Library – phone 03000 41 31 31.  Right now, they desperately need a new volunteer treasurer/administrator at Sevenoaks Library. The role involves: keeping the accounts (not much money is involved!), applying for local Town Council and District Council grants once a year and sorting out van insurance and making arrangements for MOTs and occasional servicing and similar tasks.  The current volunteer, Alec, would be happy to answer any questions and can assure you that it really isn’t too time-consuming.

OTFORD MEDICAL PRACTICE  is organising ‘Our Senior Years’ at the Otford Memorial Hall on 14 May.  This health awareness half day includes an agenda from gentle exercise through music, to speakers on health, a chance to ask and talk about dementia, loneliness, and bereavement, and a session on planning for an older age.  From 10 am to 1.30, you can just turn up.

THE GREAT EU IN OR OUT DEBATE    It’s difficult to  arrange an evenly balanced panel of Pro Speakers and Con Speakers on this and SDSAF is committed to basing our work on what our Members tell us and we have not surveyed our Members on this.  So, as the Committee exists to run the organisation and pass on your concerns, not ours, we suggest that you attend the EU debate being arranged by Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce.

HELP!  Do you have marketing skills?  Or writing skills?  With SDSAF’s huge growth, the workload has grown and we could use some help with our newsletter, website, lobbying and marketing.  What’s your background?  Could you help?  You don’t have to join the committee or do other stuff you would find boring but we could do with some help.  Would you like to be our village or town contact person? Please don’t be shy!!!  Give us a call, send us an email…

SEVENOAKS DAY NURSERY is due to move to a new building in 2019 and is looking for new trustees particularly with accounting, local government or project management skills to help manage this project successfully.  The trustees hope to work more closely with groups like children’s centres, low income families and the women’s refuge to make sure we’re targeting those who most need our services. Contact more info on this volunteering opportunity.  Please note: an opportunity like this may be filled before we go to print!

COMMUNITY FIRST RESPONDERS  If you call for an ambulance, you are liable to find that a CFR gets to you first.  It’s good to help people as dedicated as the CFRs and they are having a fund raising concert on July 9th at Otford.  SDSAF is helping!  Yes, you can see the odd SDSAF committee member putting on a completely different hat and entertaining CFR supporters!

NOTE TO OTHER COMMITTEE MEMBERS – I hope you’ve got this in your diaries!

ANOTHER SCAM  DON’T RESPOND TO AN EMAIL OR TEXT MESSAGE SUPPOSEDLY FROM A BANK ASKING YOU TO PHONE A PARTICULAR NUMBER.  Instead phone your bank on the number you have on your statement and ask if they have sent you this message.  They will not have!  It’s a scam.


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