By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Lead
PUT more than 100 over 50-year-olds into a room, and you get a vast wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience – and the odd gripe.
That is what happened last weekend when we brought over 50-year-olds together for the launch of the ground-breaking Torbay Over 50’s Assembly – the first of its kind in Devon and Cornwall.
The enthusiasm to make a difference to the lives of all – young and old alike – who live in the bay was palpable, and many took the opportunity to sign up for either the town forums being set up in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham or put themselves forward for the Assembly Action Group.
The Assembly has been a long time coming. A working party was set up just over a year ago to look into the possibilities of using the untapped pool of talent that exists in the over 50’s. The retired in particular are seldom consulted. They become invisible.
It has long been recognised that retirement from one particular job or profession does not mean the end of the road – on the contrary, in an ageing population it is essential that we take advantage of the skills, abilities and know-how available.
Here in Torbay that is more important than ever as the over 50-year-old population is set to outnumber the under 50’s very soon. Strip out the children, and that leaves a relatively small number of working-age adults to take up the slack.
The Torbay Over 50’s Assembly will be there to help, wherever it can, and will represent a powerful new voice at every level of governance, be that in local councils, the NHS or the many organisations taking decisions that affect our daily lives.
Just over two years ago, Ageing Well Torbay asked the over 50’s what areas of their lives were the most important to them, and they came up with eight broad headings, that coincidentally reflected those drawn up by the World Health Organisation.
In a nutshell, the subjects that came out of the Food for Thought sessions that were held in each of the three towns were: transport, social inclusion, communication and information, participation and employment, social activity, health and support, housing and the environment.
On Saturday in the Preston Baptist Church, people were given the opportunity to raise their concerns, make suggestions and pinpoint areas that need improvement – in the hope that by doing so, Torbay will become a better place to live and work for everyone.
Some concerns might be considered trivial, others seemingly insurmountable. Until now. But what came across in every area was a determination to change the status quo and demand change – all without the burden of politics (with a capital P).
Suggestions ranged from the hyper local problems that plague people’s lives in their neighbourhoods to aspirational changes that can be applied in every town and every area of Torbay, a place most were proud to call home.
The momentum is there, the determination is there and people are itching to get stuck in whether that is as a member of the Assembly, which is open to anyone over the age of 50; as a town assembly representative or as an applicant to join the Assembly Action Group, which will have seats at the tables of some of the most powerful decision making forums in the area.
But action and direct involvement is not everyone’s cup of tea and if that is the case, then there is also the opportunity to simply sign up and in so doing become a member and be kept informed – to become a part of the largest and most representative group of over 50’s in the bay.
Three strands have come together to give us the opportunity to make changes and to ensure the over 50’s have a say in not just their own destinies, but those that will follow in their footsteps – after all ageing is the one guaranteed thing in nearly all our lives.
First there is the Assembly itself and its ability to be able to influence decisions and policies at every level, then there is the Age Positive Charter – a statement of intent that has been endorsed by both the local NHS and the Torbay Council with more to follow, and then there is the ongoing work to ensure that Torbay joins towns and cities across the world that can boast being officially designated Age-friendly.
We can’t do anything about the demographic profile of Torbay, neither can we do anything about the topography, but we can make the most of what we have got and make the bay the very best it can be for everyone.
We gathered an enormous amount of information from the meeting at the weekend and we will now process it and set the first challenges for the Assembly. As promised, we will also keep everyone informed as the work progresses.
If you need more detail about the Torbay Over 50’s Assembly or want to get involved, then contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01803 212638. We would love to hear from you.