Charity calls for Scotland-wide rollout of Older People's Champions
The national charity for older people is calling on all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities to create the role to ensure that older people’s voices are heard, their interests catered for and their concerns addressed.
Nine local authorities have already appointed a councillor to the apolitical role but the Age Scotland and SOPA campaign aims to build a network of champions to represent older people’s views and identify issues that affect older people from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway.
An Older People’s Champion would also make sure that council policies affecting older people, including transport, social care, public toilets and community services, are communicated clearly and directly.
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said:
“The need for Older People’s Champions has never been greater. With Scotland’s population ageing faster than anywhere else in the UK, it is vital that local decision-making has at its heart the needs of older people.
“Just as the Scottish Government has a dedicated Minister for Older People and Equalities, it is time that councils have a role focused solely on older people.
“We know that many local authority budgets are under pressure, but older people need someone who is responsible for standing up for their interests and finding out what they need from local decision makers.
“The impact of COVID-19 on older people has only heightened the case for Older People’s Champions. The pandemic has had devastating effect on many older people who are struggling to cope with record levels of isolation and loneliness.
“As we hopefully begin to recover after a year of unprecedented challenge for older people, I would urge every local authority to appoint an Older People’s Champion to make older voices heard and ensure that older people are not excluded from our local democracy.”
Diana Findley, chairperson of SOPA said:
“We in SOPA are very pleased to be working in partnership with Age Scotland, firstly to applaud the local authorities who have already appointed an Older People’s Champion but also to encourage the others to see the value of such a role and follow suit.
“This is an important ambassadorial role and if all local authorities appointed one of their councillors in such a role it would ensure that older people’s perspectives would be raised in all matters discussed in council.
“Such a network of Older People’s Champions would give older people a stronger voice but also be a space to share knowledge to assist each of the champions in their role.”