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Computer lesson at WRVS Hanley Centre

Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.

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WRVS in the Scottish Parliament

WRVS has succeeded in drawing the Scottish Parliament’s attention to the issue of community transport on the back of our ‘Give us a Lift’ campaign and a WRVS briefing sent to all Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in conjunction with Age Scotland and the Community Transport Association.

The debate on 10 December focused on extending the national concessionary travel scheme (free bus passes) to disabled people but Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Local Government and Transport, Alison McInnes, highlighted WRVS’s hope that community transport services for older people may come to be included in the scheme as well.

This led to the approval of a motion that, amongst other things, called for “the Scottish Government to consider extending eligibility for the national concessionary travel scheme to include older and disabled people using community transport in rural areas.”

Although WRVS was arguing for an extension to services in all areas, not just rural, and while the Scottish Government is not bound to act on the motion it is a further and very important encouragement to them to look at the issue again. Here’s hoping!

Posted by Andrew Jackson

Posted by at 00:00 Friday, 18 December 2009.

Labels: Older people, Scotland, Scottish Parliament

Have some balls Mr Burnham

The Department of Health announced this week that they won't be able to publish the figures that back up their proposals for a National Care Service. It means that we're all going to have to take on trust that the three options for funding the proposals are the only ones feasible, and that they will give us the National Care Service this country needs.

With trust in politics at an all time low - it's a stretch and a real shame that the Government doesn't have the confidence to demonstrate the realities behind their proposals for reforming social care - which on paper look really good. Surely that's what the Big Care Debate they launched in July is all about.

We all know that times are tough, finances tight - but we also know that we need to sort out care and support now if we're going to all live healthier and better lives as we age in the future. We can't do that if we don't know what we're dealing with.

I wish our politicians could take a few more of the right risks. Have some balls Mr Burnham, publish the figures and let's work together on creating a National Care Service we can all be proud of.

Posted by Paul

Posted by at 13:57 Friday, 06 November 2009.

Labels: National Care Service, Social Care, Trust in politicians

First impressions are often the truest...

I haven’t been with WRVS long, but plenty long enough to form a first impression.

I admit; it’s fair to say that before I applied for my job, I wasn’t particularly clued up about exactly what WRVS does – Meals on Wheels and hospital cafes are probably the stereotypical activities that spring to mind. I did, of course, do plenty of research before I had my interview, and couldn’t believe how many different activities WRVS is involved in.

Without wanting to sound pious (I do work here after all), within the first week of being here, I knew I had made a good move.

Visiting projects, and talking to volunteers and people who use WRVS services made it strikingly obvious that the work that goes on here is – using one of my favourite PR phrases – a lifeline for older people.

It may be a cliche, but it isn’t an exaggeration. Without services like Meals on Wheels, Books on Wheels, community transport...a frightening number of older people wouldn’t see a friendly face, or be able to leave the house, for months on end.

I can honestly say, hand on heart, I am already incredibly passionate about what WRVS does.

It’s easy for those who don’t fully understand the work of the charity to dismiss it as insignificant.

The social impact report we produced shows that the activities WRVS allows older people to take part in – a trip to the seaside, having a cup of tea with friends, not having to worry about how to get to a doctors appointment – has a real effect on physical and mental wellbeing. And that’s very significant.

But not enough people know what services are available for older people, or appreciate what a difference the work of the charity makes. Therein lies the challenge.

Posted by Ruth Taylor

Posted by at 11:49 Thursday, 29 October 2009.

When I'm 64...

Life doesn't stop when you hit your 60s and we've been asking people what they'll be up to when they're 64.

Few people said they'd be spending the childrens inheritance or putting their feet up. The most popular answers were lying on a beach, riding the worlds tallest rollercoaster and working in a job I love.

This is obviously just a small snapshot but it builds an interesting image of what old age might be for the hippy, glam rock and punk generations.

Aspirations are so much greater than those of previous generations. Retirement is an opportunity to realise lifelong dreams with people opting for adventurous travel destintations and the chance to challenge themselves. We might cringe a bit when we see older people in hoodies but by refusing to conform to the OAP stereotype they might be doing the rest of us a favour. Remember these people were the activists of the 60s, watched men walk on the moon, and lived through the industrial action of the 1970s - they are not going to grow old gracefully!

By the way, our favourite answers were:

"...dye my hair funny colours again without fear of it falling out"

"...enjoy sex, Toy Boy, G&Ts, lots of company and laughter!!!"

Posted by Julia Cook

Posted by at 10:27 Wednesday, 21 October 2009.

"Individual budgets help me control my sex life"

I bumped into a woman at Labour Party Conference the other night (at the Big Care reception) who told me that individual budgets are the best thing since sliced bread, because they've helped her keep her libido under control. I was intrigued.

Individual budgets are where people who get social care support get an amount of money to choose how they are supported to live their life rather than somebody at the council making the decisions for you.

The woman I was speaking to has Parkinsons and apparently the medication she takes increases your urges to a level that needs controlling. That was startling enough in itself and I didn't probe on exactly how she used her indvidual budget to keep herself in check (I'm very shy), but I hoped she wasn't faced with an all or nothing choice - she didn't strike me as the celibate type.

But that's not the point - what it demonstrates is the power of putting people back in control of their lives. Controlling her sex life was just one of the things that she could now do to get around the effects of the disease and it meant that she felt more in control of the disease and her life. The same goes for people faced with any health challenges as they get older. Each of us should be able to get the help we need and what that help is will be different for all of us.

Individual budgets are a start for those who do have access to social care now, but there's a wider group of people out there who given the opportunity and the access to help and support with everyday activities could go from feeling stuck in their home to back in control of their lives and doing the things they want. That's the aim of WRVS' election challenge, we want to make Britain a great place to grow old and it will only be a great place if everyone in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond feel they can live the life they want.

That means reforming social care to remove the stigmas attached to it, ensuring everone has access and an entitlement to support when they need it, but ensure they have control over the help and services they receive. We've got to work with the politicians, other organisations and people in communities across the country to make it happen.

Posted by Paul

Posted by at 09:00 Tuesday, 29 September 2009.

Labels: Individual budgets

Everyone's talking about cuts - we're talking about the future

The party conference season's in full swing and all the major parties are vying with each other to pledge the biggest spending cuts.

Okay we're in financial do-do, but let's look a bit further forward guys. We will get out of the recession and the choices we make now will shape what Britain is like in the next ten, twenty years.

WRVS will be calling on the party faithful at Labour and Conservative conferences to sign up to four pledges that will help make Britain a great place to grow old. It's not just about money, it's about changing attitudes too. But cuts in the wrong place now could set us back decades - we're all getting older, let's make sure our political masters think about tomorrow not just a political win today.

What do you think?

Posted by Paul

Posted by at 14:24 Thursday, 24 September 2009.

Labels: Older people, Party conference, Spending cuts