28 Nov 2011
This morning a Grey Pride brigade has delivered our petition calling for a dedicated Minister for Older People to Downing Street.
Campaigners, including Esther Rantzen and led by older people’s charity Anchor, visited Number 10 to hand over the 137,000-strong petition in a bid to persuade the Government to appoint a Minister and give older people a voice.
The delegation visiting Downing Street this morning included Denis Warrilow, a resident at Anchor's Norton House in Westminster. Asked what his message for Prime Minister David Cameron was, he said: “Lots of cuts are happening during this time of austerity, and it’s important that older people’s views are heard when decisions are made about issues that affect them. We want a Minister for Older People with access to Cabinet so that the voices of the elderly are taken into consideration when ministers make decisions on such issues as the winter fuel allowance, care funding and pensions.”
Anchor Chief Executive Jane Ashcroft added: "As one of the largest and fastest growing parts of British society, it is a travesty that the issues that matter to older people are under-represented in Government.
"We urgently need a dedicated Minister who can take responsibility for joining up policies affecting older people, ensuring they are looked at in the round, rather than as fragmented issues. As a first priority, we need the Minister to oversee publication of Andrew Dilnot’s White Paper on Care Funding, due for publication next Spring, to ensure we can find a way out of the current care funding crisis which is only set to worsen over the coming years."
More than 20 organisations are backing Grey Pride, while Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband responded to Anchor’s call by appointing Liz Kendall MP to the position of Shadow Minister for Older People in his reshuffle of the opposition front bench last month.
Celebrities such as Tony Robinson, Richard Wilson OBE and Linda Robson have also signed the petition.
Esther Rantzen, aged 71 herself, added: “Having a Minister who puts the needs of the elderly first would provide a focus for us, and become our champion. We oldies come in many different shapes and sizes. We have widely different incomes, and attitudes, and tastes. And although some of us have our frailties, we also have huge amounts to contribute, if only we are allowed to. When Alf Morris was created as the first Minister for Disabled People, he went into every Government Department demanding to know what they were doing to improve access and opportunities for disabled people. Tim Loughton is a superb Minister for Children, and he ensures their interests are represented whenever decisions are made. So why not, dear young Dave and Nick, create a Grey Minister for older people? Then, as Grey Pride would say, you would have something to be truly proud of.”
Events are being held around the country to mark Grey Pride Day and celebrate the popular support for the campaign. An 'Over 100s club' is meeting Birmingham, a cocktail party is being held in a Bethnal Green care home, and in Grassington a time capsule is being buried to show the difference before and after a Minister for Older People is appointed.