Changing Torbay together

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Lead

AT last there is the prospect of change in the bay as the Torbay Over 50’s Assembly prepares to start work.

Informal interviews for the Assembly Action Group have been been taking place over the last weeks, but there has been a lot of interest in the posts and applications continue to come in.

What was clear from the launch attended by more than 100 people a few weeks ago at Preston Baptist Church, there is a definite appetite for the over 50’s to get involved and help facilitate change.

Change is a big word – encapsulating as it does everything from minor alterations to seismic shifts, but all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is with you at the town forums being set up in Brixham Torquay and Paignton

The timetable for the meetings will be worked out when the Assembly has its inaugural gathering, hopefully later this month – and they already have dozens of concerns to address from those who attended the launch.

A lot of work will need to be done for the Assembly to gain momentum, but the candidates we have already seen for interview are undaunted by the scale of the task in hand.

Nothing will happen overnight, but everyone associated with Ageing Well Torbay is hoping that in a couple of years, when the formally funded Big Lottery funded programme comes to an end, we will be able to look at successes and depart in the knowledge that the interests of over 50-year-olds across the bay are in safe hands.

As the American anthropologist, Margaret Mead said many years ago: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

We live in interesting times where the average age of the population continues to rise, and as has been written in this column on many occasions, the population of Torbay, already way above the median, will soon feature more 50-year-olds than not.

It is a challenge being faced across the country but is more acute in Torbay as not only is the average age of the population continuing to grow, but it remains a popular place for retirees to move to, boosting the number still further.

Previously older people have been disregarded, and in recent years decision making was not just taken out of the older person’s hands, it was imposed upon by over patriarchal institutions who thought they knew best.

How wrong they were, because those that thought they knew best had forgotten to ask the very people who really did have the answers – the over 50’s themselves.

It became a popular misconception that greying hair equated to grey and dying brain cells and authorities are now recognising the error of their ways and finally turning to the very same people for their help

An older population, if consulted can only be an advantage – a vast wealth of knowledge, wisdom and skill amassed down the decades which can be tapped into turning what has long been regarded as part of a problem into a major part of the solution.

The over 50’s have opinions and views about how they should be treated and how authorities should react to their needs, but that is not at the expense of anyone else, the Assembly will work to improve the lot of everyone that lives in the bay.

Members of the Action Group are being appointed not just for their enthusiasm, work ethic and determination to make a difference, but also because they have expertise in eight key areas.

Improved health services will benefit everyone as they become tailored to meet specific needs, rather than one size fits all and the input of the Assembly into local NHS, and local authority committees, including the Torbay Health and Wellbeing Board, will ensure that happens.

Work on environmental issues will be for the good of all – an improved place to work and play and the Assembly will be campaigning to help make sure it happens and is then maintained for everyone.

Assembly member’s input into transport issues – be that buses, taxis, or parking to name but a few can only be a bonus as can their lobbying on social inclusion, social activity, housing and communications.

Finally, the population trend would traditionally have meant a shrinking workforce, but better health and later retirements means that people are working for longer and the Assembly will be looking at the opportunities available across the bay.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

The Assembly is a part of that change.

To express an interest in the Assembly or to apply to join, please phone 01803 212638 or email