Political column: Why every older person counts

Christine Smith
Christine Smith

Christine Smith of Mansfield Independents on the importance of senior citizens and celebrating local volunteers...

Some years ago Mansfield Independents forwarded a motion which was carried in Council that ‘Every Older Person Counts’.

This sentiment is still important in the current climate.

We are delighted therefore that an extra care scheme comprising 64 units for older people aged 55 years and over will be developed in Brownlow Road. Building aims to start in August this year and be finished in November 2015. There will be houses, bungalows and apartments, some with shared ownership, and a bungalow scheme for people with dementia, managed in a joint effort with NCC and Mansfield Council.

The development will also include a community hub facility for people to meet and socialise, including a multi-purpose activity room promoting health and well-being, and private spaces for treatment and advice for residents, carers and people in the surrounding neighbourhood. Brownlow Road was a blighted area for decades but at that time Mansfield Council had low reserves and no money to act. No cash for Brownlow is thankfully now past history. With careful and sensible planning of the Council’s resources, Mansfield Council was able to buy the land and clear the site, and with a committed drive by Independent Portfolio Cllr.Derek Evans, this development for our older citizens has come to fruition. This scheme could also help to free some family properties as older people down-size, to accommodate growing families in our area.

Mansfield Council has also secured a Disabled Facilities Adaptation Scheme Grant. This money will allow disabled people (young or old) living in the private sector who fit the criteria to access a grant to adapt their homes to suit their disability, enabling them to live more independent lives.

Many need stairlifts or showers, for example, as bathing becomes more difficult. Many elderly carers are often frail themselves and have their own health problems, and this help can ease their lives too as they support partners.

Ex-service personnel and those under the age of 20 in the private sector are not means-tested for this new grant.

Independent Forum members do not believe that other disabled people living in the private sector should be means-tested, as many elderly people in their 80s and 90s started work at 14 years and have paid into society all their lives. Cllr. Evans has tasked officers to make this equality policy happen. (We are pleased that Council tenants via a H.R.A. account can apply for adaptations without means-testing.)

We believe that all our disabled citizens needing help are assessed on their disability equally and if they need a grant for adaptation to their home, equally they should get it.

Mansfield is fortunate to have many ‘unsung heroes’ who volunteer. Mansfield Museum held its own ‘Celebrate Volunteers’ event last week, demonstrating the sterling work which they do.

Mansfield Volunteer Awards has been launched - details are on the Council’s website in ‘My Mansfield’ or call the Council on 01623 463372 for forms to nominate a deserving volunteer.

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