Pensioners Parliament a “real triumph”

Keeping warm in the winter and not having enough money are the two biggest worries of pensioners in the Derry area.

The issues affecting older people were the topic of debate at the first meeting of County Derry Pensioners Parliament last Friday.

The event, which was opened by the Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, was attended by over 100 pensioners from the county.

There was also a panel of experts on hand to provide advice and information on any complex points raised.

Issues such as health, community safety, and transport were discussed; alongside worries about keeping warm in winter and having enough money for a decent quality of life.

These are the two main worries affecting older people, with 159 people and 150 people raising them in a questionnaire.

The expert panel at last Friday’s event included Alan Finn, from the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Maureen Collins from Neighbourhood Assist, Paula Martin from Bridge Accessible Transport, Helena Hasson from the Community Safety Partnership and Inspector Michell Boyd from the PSNI.

Opening the event, Councillor Eastwood said he believed the meeting of the local Pensioners Parliament “will help ensure the voice of older people in County Derry is heard.

“I am encouraged to hear that this is not the end of this process. In June this year, delegates from this event will join older people from across Northern Ireland in attending the overall two day Pensioners Parliament, where the priorities for older people across the province will be decided.”

Pat McLaughlin from Derry, who is a member of Age Sector Platform, said it was a “unique process.”

“Instead of telling pensioners what they should be worried about, we are actively encouraging them to tell us about the problems they face. This is truly a ‘bottom up’ approach. It has been a real tiumph and we look forward to the regional parliament in Belfast during June.”

For more information on the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, please visit www.pensionersparliament.org or phone 028 9031 2089.