Watford Senior Citizens Forum

Achievements and current Projects.

These are actions carried out or initiated by volunteers on the Better Government for Older People subsequently the Watford Senior Citizens Forum projects.

1. Volunteers were deeply involved in launching the Time Swap system in May 1999 from the YMCA in the Town Center. This event went without a hitch and resulted in the enrolment of 74 members.

2. Time Swap has been taken over by the Borough Council to be established as a community project Watford wide for all age groups. During the active stage of this project we produced a Time Swap newsletter.

3. Watford Borough Council has called upon us, from time to time, to be represented at numerous symposia, conferences and a central government exercise (to plan the introduction of the new method of local government eg cabinet, elected mayor etc.).

4. In 1999 our Better Government for Older People (BGOP) project won a national award, this was presented by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to the Leader of the Borough Council, Vince Muspratt. We understand that special mention was made about Time Swap and it's involvement in the community.

5. In 2000 our BGOP project also won an award in the national "Caring Matters" competition. The award was presented to our representatives by Lord Rix at an event held in the House of Lords.

6. Instrumental in establishing computers in Sheltered houses. This came about when we were given obsolete computers from the Town Hall. We set up a workshop in a disused office at the Wiggenhall Depot to refurbish and update the machines for the sheltered houses but found that although the basic units where complete there was a shortage of critical components and programs to make them suitable for the intended use. It was found that for little more cost new machines could be purchased complete with warranties and programs all set up. This proposal was taken up by the Town Hall who obtained new machines from a donor.

7. One of our members is a representative on the National Older Peoples Advisory Group, (OPAG) which meets bi-monthly. This consists of 36 people representing all areas of the British Isles. It is a very good opportunity to put forward the views, and concerns of Watford's older people, and OPAG also used as a direct channel to Ministers and the Government. Our representative is currently working on Transport and Fire Safety in the Home. In addition, various conferences and meetings have to be attended as well as the 'routine' work. Our Representative is also on the Eastern Region of OPAG, again with bi-monthly meetings, and this gives us even more opportunities to exchange views, and glean information from other parts of the Region. The OPAGs are very useful in many ways, as it is extremely helpful to find out what is happening to older people in other towns and cities.

8. We produce a newsletter, which is circulated to all members and various other outlets.

9. From the beginning of the BGOP project, July 1998, we established our presence on the Internet being if not the first pilot to do this but certainly one of them. We developed the site into one covering community projects, Time Swap, West Watford Community Forum (SRB), West Watford Information Shop and Westfield Community School. The site has now been taken over by the Borough Council and was to be included in the official Watford site.

10. Other local authority representatives have visited us to hear our views, and mistakes, made on the BGOP project.

11. Have organised various events at sheltered houses. These have included "cook ins", presentations on health matters etc. This is an ongoing project. We are hoping to organise a 'Reminiscence' event, in the Sheltered Schemes, which would give older people a chance to'tell it as it was'. It would be recorded, and there would be an artist handy to depict the scenes. We are hopeful that this could eventually be used as a teaching aid for the younger generations. We are also hopeful that some form of art sessions can be organised within the sheltered schemes. Any events so organised would not only be just for the tenants,but for any interested older people in the community. We are always on the lookout for anything that could be arranged to enhance their lives, as people get older.

12. Currently we are making efforts to involve the private sector Sheltered Houses but with virtually no success. We will persevere.

13. Encouraged the establishment of a shopping scheme for older residents which was developed by the 'Meals on wheels'organisation. The shopping scheme is now being run by 'Dial-a-ride, and is a regular weekly event, enabling people to be more independent, and still get their own shopping.

14. Drop in center established in conjunction with the Watford Community Church in Market St. They were also donated a computer to operate as a Time Swap center. This initiative seems to have faded away.

15. A current activity is to establish an older person's drop in center possibly located in the Town Center. Our first investigation has revealed that older people only attend the Town Center on market days. On these days they are well catered for by existing refreshment and rest facilities available in the market hall. Further research showed that a center located in North Watford shopping area would be an alternative.

16. We would like to establish the Watford Sheltered Houses as community activity centers for the older persons in the immediate area. This is a long-term project.

17. Now we have established a Watford Senior Citizens Forum web site ( www.watfordscf.co.uk ) covering our own activities etc. The pages include, among a lot of other detail information, our monthly newsletter and links to other sites of interest to the older person.

18. We would like to contact all pensioners in Watford Borough and are looking into ways of doing this.

19. Collected comments and views on the government proposals for alterations to the retirement age rules.

20. We have established small, (2 or 3 people), working groups who have a specific interest in an aspect of interest to older people. Currently we have four groups on Health, Safety, Transport and Communication. Groups are also set up for specific subjects as they arise on a one off basis. These groups would report back to the forum.

21. We instigated a Watford Senior Citizens Information Directory covering organisations connected with the needs of older people. This was produced, by Watford Council from a list of such organisations prepared by the Forum. Details have been included on our web site, www.watfordscf.co.uk. the directory can be obtained by application to the Town Hall. This directory will be up-dated by the Forum.

22. A speaker from an organisation relevant to older people is invited to give a presentation at our monthly meetings. These have included a visit from our elected Mayor who came to give her views on the inclusion of older people in her deliberations, and our local Member of Parliament who answered the many questions raised by the Forum.

23. The Health group is very busy. Two of them are now Patients Representatives on the Patients Advise and Liaison Service (PALS) at Watford General Hospital, attending meetings, and speaking up for the older patients. Another one of their tasks is to go on hospital inspections with the Patient Environmental Action Teams (PEATS) at hospitals within the Trust-Watford General, Mount Vernon, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City.

24. There are two members who are on the Patients Panel, which consists of six people who represent patients using any of the four hospitals in West Hertfordshire.

25. We send a representative to the Pensioners Parliament annual meetings. They put forward our views on various matters concerning older people of Watford.

26. We also are on the committee for ABC (Against Bogus Crime) and have started to give presentations to various older people groups, i.e. Luncheon Clubs and Coffee Mornings where older people from houses nearby as well as residents of sheltered housing attend.

27. One of our recent objectives is to contact all the organisations covered by our Watford Senior Citizens Information Directory and request they send a senior member of their committee as their representative to our meetings. In this way we hope we can share resources and combine our forces to deal with common issues affecting older people in general.

28. We have been successful in our campaign to have a Councillor allocated to represent senior citizens interests through a portfolio at Cabinet level. Along with their other commitments this Councillor will also attend our meetings. Although we would still like a full Cabinet Portfolio Holder to represent the Senior Citizens.

29. We now have all our publicity material on compact disk for issue to interested parties

30. We have expressed our concern to NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) and our MP at our dissatisfaction with the fact that the latest treatment for osteoporosis will only be given after a patient has endured a fracture. One of our working groups is pursuing this point.

31. We are starting a campaign about the lack of follow up from the various meetings and functions we attend.

32. Lack of attendance at meetings, which appears to be taking place with most organisations is one of our concerns. At our request our Mayor hosted a brainstorming meeting with this as the subject. The outcome was that we would investigate the organisations, clubs etc. in Watford, which have special reference to the older person. We have done this and the results passed to the Town Hall. A database will now be set up with these details plus contact details of key people across the Borough who would be interested in being advised of the various events of interest to them as they occur. This contact will be maintained by e-mail.

33. The Mayor also stated, at our brainstorming meeting that she would like to hold a Watford wide old people's event covering all the organisations held on the database in the autumn 2004.

34. We are now (May 2005) in the process of planning the Watford wide old people's event for early 2006.

35. It has come to our notice that there is a complete absence of toilets in one of our popular business parks. This also highlighted the fact that there is a shortage across the town as a whole. We are now bringing this to the notice of various parties involved and are preparing a map locating public toilets, which we hope to have published along with town information in general.

36. Refer to our "Pill Dangers" campaign.

37. DisabledGo, the web site which has informatation, on disabled access to public buildings, shops, hotels, toilets etc have accepted our suggestion to add to each Towns' details a link to that Towns' Blue Badge parking regulations. This has already been done for the Watford details. This information will be included for each Town covered by the DisabledGo main data base.

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Updated 11/5/05