Let's make the politicians listen! With only 12 days of this election left to go there’s been a swirl of issues and debate, but are our politicians sufficiently aware of, or listening hard enough to the issues that matter most to older people?
I think the answer at the moment has to be ‘no’, but in the 12 days that are left before polling day we are determined to change this and we need your help to do so.
Age UK’s election rally
Last week Age UK hoped to hold an election rally at which politicians would talk directly with older people about their issues and concerns. We were thrilled that more than 300 older people signed up to attend and that 11,000 campaigners submitted questions for the event.
Unfortunately, though, with less than 48 hours to go, we were still waiting to hear if the two major parties would be able to send someone along to speak so, in the interest of ensuring political balance and avoiding wasting our attendees’ time, we decided we couldn’t go ahead as planned and not to offer any party a platform. It was frustrating to have to make this change, but as it turned out all was not lost.
A change of plan
Since we were unable to give older people the opportunity to speak with politicians directly, we decided the next best thing was to do this indirectly instead, and reorganised our ‘politician-free’ rally accordingly. Our focus shifted to listening to and capturing the views and voices of the more than one hundred older people who had very kindly still decided to attend and it made for a great day.
Attendees shared their views on housing, social care, climate change, TV licences, the NHS, state pension changes, scams and digital inclusion – among other issues. We collected videos and photos and some people wrote letters to the new Prime Minister. Everyone picked out their top priorities and there were lots of opportunities for everyone to have their say using a variety of formats. More than one person told me how great it was to ‘get things off their chest’ and much of what we heard was riveting, and some of it deeply moving.
The next 12 days
So with 12 days to go now until polling day, we will be putting all our efforts into raising these questions, views and voices with all the political parties. We hope you will be able to help us if you are on Facebook or Twitter by sharing the questions or points that strike you as important. Or, on the doorstep, make sure you ask the candidates what they will do about the issues that matter the most to you.
In particular, this election time at Age UK we want all the parties that are vying for power to commit to fixing social care (find out more in Age UK’s manifesto). We have a plan for what care should look like which, as you would expect, draws heavily on what people using, their carers and family members think should change to make life better.
Now it is time for the politicians to listen to us and respond. Let’s make sure whoever forms the next Government hears the voices of older people loud and clear.
Age UK's General Election manifesto
With 6 million people over the age of 65 in need of support, we're calling for the next Government to invest in older people and the public services they need.