Please contact Cathy Deplessis, Director, on 020 7708 4556 or for any press queries.

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Last Wednesday over 60 people attended the Southwark Pensioners Parliament, organised with the support of Southwark Pensioners Action Group (SPAG), Southwark Pensioners Centre, and our sponsor, A&E Elkins, at the Palace of Westminster, part of the Houses of Parliament.

Those present met with all three Southwark MPs and challenged them on their work in a variety of areas which affects people of all ages not just Pensioners.

Of particular interest to Pensioners, was the MPs’ positions on estate regeneration and affordable housing, rising homelessness, fair funding for social care, the UK old age pension which is among the lowest in Europe, the impact on women born in the fifties who have to wait much longer to get their pensions, and the crisis in mental health services at the Maudsley and King’s College Hospitals that is affecting people of all ages especially the young and those with dementia.

SPAG members argued that the draft Southwark Mental Health Strategy, currently being consulted on, was in need of major revision and was not fit for purpose. They felt that the A and E provision at King’s College Hospital does not meet the needs of mentally ill residents and needs to be moved over the road back to the Maudesley hospital. SPAG felt that there needs to be a lot more Council housing for people of all ages and that residents should be able to vote before any demolition takes place. Questions were also raised about the MPs position on pensions and the recent changes to Welfare Benefits which were being debated later that day.

We are very unique. We are the only Pensioners in the country who have this. We are very lucky, Tom White, Pensioner

The lively meeting was chaired by the Chair of the Pensioners Centre and Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Charlie Smith. He noted towards the end there was clearly not enough time to properly debate all the issues raised and also not sufficient time to cover other important ones. He thanked all three MPs – Helen Hayes, Neil Coyle and Harriet Harman – for all their responses, for outlining the work they are undertaking on the various committees they sit on and in raising issues important to local people.

Cllr Charlie Smith, Chair, Mayor of Southwark and Chair of Southwark Pensioners Centre stated: In challenging their MPs, Pensioners got to have their voices heard and older people from different communities in Southwark who hadn’t experienced Parliament before got to learn how it works. We are grateful for the support of A&E Elkins who sponsored the Pensioners Parliament.

Cathy Deplessis, Director of Southwark Pensioners Centre commented on the event: I feel the hard work done by Centre staff to facilitate the Pensioners Parliament was rewarded with a good turnout and debate.

After the Parliament session some went over and joined the National Pensioners Convention Lobby of Parliament.


Second Tony Lynes Memorial Lecture

Young or Old, Loneliness Doesn’t Discriminate

Last Tuesday Oct 31st 2017, an audience of over 200 people heard Rachel Reeves MP, co Chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, give an amazing and very heartening talk on the theme of the second Tony Lynes Memorial Lecture, Young or Old Loneliness doesn’t discriminate at the William Booth College.

The Chair was Cllr Peter John, OBE, Leader of Southwark Council supported by Cllr Charlie Smith, Mayor of Southwark and Chair of Southwark Pensioners Centre. 0ver 18 organisations from the voluntary and statutory sector staffed stalls to talk to people face to face about the activities and services they offer in Southwark.

Rachel spoke movingly about Tony’s legacy and his belief that community action could and did make a difference. Loneliness is the modern scourge of our time affecting many, many people from all ages and all walks of life, from the bullied school child, to the new mother, to the pensioner who has outlived their friends and immediate family. Chronic loneliness ultimately damages health and wellbeing leading to poorer health and shortened lives.

In a thought provoking, wide ranging conversation afterwards, ideas put forward to tackle loneliness included providing social skills training for children, GPs being able to give out social prescriptions, making sure social spaces are included in master planning, and putting in place and maintaining the connections and infrastructure to support people and groups. The council received high praise for its commitment to keeping open libraries and leisure centres in the borough in the face of austerity.

As we approach Christmas which is often the loneliness time of the year for many people, let’s all be part of the solution by making a pledge – something many of us could easily help with:- Looking in on a neighbour, visiting an elderly relative, making that call or visit we’ve been promising to a friend we haven’t seen in a long time or taking part in the #Mince Pie Moment by holding a Great Get Together with neighbours to share mince pies or food and celebrate all that we hold in common. It could be a street party or a shared barbecue, a picnic or a bake off. What matters is that we have fun and bring communities closer together.

Be part of the solution by pledging to start a conversation today.