26 April 2017Joint Cross Party Group Meeting

A joint meeting of two Cross Party Groups -  'Older People, Age and Ageing' and 'Mental Health' was held on 26th April at the Scottish Parliament with MSP Sandra White in the Chair. (Pictured left with Dr David Christmas. Picture right: Dr David Mitchell)

Speakers:  Angela Dias, Change Network Officer, Action in Mind: an overview of services for people  65+ not being of the same quantity and range as pre 65. Rosemary Carter and Dianna Manson spoke of their personal experiences of mental illness.

Dr David Christmas, Consultant Psychiatrist, Advanced Interventions Service, Dundee: 'Depression'

Dr John Mitchell, Principal Medical Officer and Psychiatric Adviser, Scottish Government: Strategy on mental health.

The questions for discussion were: How do the Strategy's vision, themes, ambitions and actions apply to older people? How can delivery improve services for older people? How can older people be appropriately represented? Report on the discussion to follow.


15 April 2017Support for older veterans

£4 million from the Aged Veterans Fund has been awarded to a consortium of organisations, which includes SOPA, to support older veterans and their families. Leading is Poppyscotland. Others involved are Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Age Scotland, Care and Repair, Citizens Advice Scotland, Defence Medical Welfare Service, Erskine, Fares4Free, Legion Scotland, Luminate, Music in Hospitals Scotland, Scottish War Blinded and the University of West of Scotland. 
“The 2014 Poppyscotland Household Survey numbered Scotland’s Aged Veterans community at approximately 280,000, with almost two-thirds aged 65 or over. It highlighted the need to improve wellbeing in areas such as care, loneliness, social isolation and recreational activity, and to ensure access to advice to improve quality of life." Mark Bibbey, Chief Executive at Poppyscotland.

31 March 2017Tom Berney's article in the National

Click to read "Scottish Older People's Assembly Chair has been meeting The National’s columnists"

SOPA Coordinator Glenda Watt and Chair Tom Berney welcomed at the Scottish Youth Parliament event in Edinburgh recently. Left: Terri Smith, MSYP for Leith and North Edinburgh. Terri , the SYP Chair presided over her last Parliament.  Right: Rachael McCulley MSYP for East Kilbride. Below: Glenda and Tom with MSYPs from Dundee.

29 March 2017SOPA Reception at Holyrood

Christine Grahame MSP hosted a reception on behalf of the Scottish Older People’s Assembly to celebrate the contribution of older adults to Scotland's democracy. Around 75 constituents attended, with 15 organisations holding stalls providing information about their activities and concerns. Ceilidh music was played by the “HLI Ceilidh Band". Chair Tom Berney, other Committee members and politicians addressed the company. Tom covered SOPA recent activities, including recent campaign issues. Minister Jean Freeman spoke about the productive work the Government had been doing with SOPA which she hopes will continue. Sandra White MSP referred to SOPA's important Secretariat role for the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing. (Next meeting - 26 April, 5.30 -7.30,  jointly with Cross Party Group on Mental Health.)  LGTBI spokesperson Tim Puntis mentioned that Scotland had been voted the best country for LGTBI people but there still was a way to go to remove barrieries to full acceptance and inclusion. 

Centre picture: 'Grey Matters' Helensburgh and Lomond, Rob Snodgrass and colleagues with Christine Grahame MSP. GM won the Age Scotland Award for Campaigning and Influencing.

Pictures clockwise from top left -

1 - National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, Alan Spinks and Learning in Later Life Association, Strathclyde University, John Parkhill and Diane Campbell.

2 - Soroptomists International, Christine Craig

3 - RNIB delegates, Gozie Joe Adigwa, Tony Young and Sandra Wilson

4 - Christine Grahame MSP welcoming constituents

5 - LGTBI Tim Puntis and Nicky Stones

6 - Sandra White MSP, convenor of the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing addressing the company.  

7 - Age Scotland, Richard Baker and Toni Giugliano

8 - Out of the Box, Ann Connor and Christine Ryder


24 March 2017SOPA's first 2017 Newsletter

SOPA's activities from January to March following on from the 2016 SOPA Assembly .

Also related items of interest by organisations affiliated to SOPA and press articles.

22 March 2017Tackling Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life: Improving Health and Wellbeing

Left to right: Chair Tom Berney; Christine Wilson, Human Development Scotland; Rob Snodgrass, Grey Matters, Helensburgh and Oban, and Tim Puntis, LGBTI.

This Holyrood Briefing event today examined how future actions for tackling loneliness and isolation will be embedded in the Scottish Government's national strategy. The SOPA Panel Discussion - billed as 'Putting the Voice of Older People at the Forefront of the Debate' started proceedings by presented issues that mattered to them: 

  • How ageism contributes to isolation and loneliness
  • The disregard of older citizens' contributions to society, the economy and services
  • How some people overcome loneliness and isolation
  • Suggestions for possible future action.

What they said:

"Older people have knowledge and life experience and continue to learn. We use this experience in the U3A and SOPA. By asking people what they want to learn and what concerns them, and then sharing this with Ministers and officials, we ensure important messages reach the policymakers." Tom Berney

"Remember there are more older people living in the community than in care homes and the definition of community has changed. In Helensburgh, we have an older citizenship group of 200 people who readily support one another." Rob Snodgrass

"Scotland is the best country in Europe for LGBTI people, but organisations need to revisit the way services are delivered. Just ask us and we will help you!" Tim Puntis

"We live with different relationships following working life or losing a loved one. It means we have to get to know ourselves as single people. Some suffer from lifelong relationship difficulties  - they want to be close but are afraid and push others away. We should recognise this and create an empathetic space." Christine Wilson

17 March 2017“A Good Life in Later Years” Project

“A Good Life in Later Years” needs people in later life to tell the researchers what for them makes for a good quality of life now. The key questions are :

  • What is the essence of a good life in later years?
  • What do you think is needed to achieve/maintain a good life?
  • How might a good life change if there are serious health challenges or if you take on a caring role?

Click the external link for more information and click here to access an online survey. Choose between a short survey or a longer one that allows you to say a lot more.

This project is hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling in collaboration with Age Scotland, and is  funded by the Life Changes Trust. 

06 March 2017SOPA reception at Westminster

8 members of the SOPA Committee attended a Westminster reception on 6th March hosted by Mhairi Black MP and member of the Pensions Committee. The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness of the anomalies within the pension system, resulting in discrimination against some older people and some ex-service personnel who are not entitled to a forces pension.

03 March 2017The National: Integrating Health and Social Care

People generally prefer to stay in their own homes in later life if in need of care and the government policy of integrating health and social care is welcomed by most older people’s groups. From a government perspective it also frees up expensive hospital beds and services. However what are many people experiencing in the home care sector?  Read Tom Berney's article in today's National.

07 February 2017Over 65s with a mental health condition let down by health boards

Read article in The Herald - 'Experts brand mental health for the over-65s second rate"

This issue first arose at the 2014 SOPA Assembly, and was again highlighted at the 2015 Assembly. SOPA subsequently has supported the 'Age in Mind' project led by the Scottish Mental Health Co-operative (part of 'See Me' programme aimed at ending mental health stigma and discrimination.)  It has affirmed that once people hit 65 they have less access to psychiatrists and specialist nurses, and worry about losing places at mental health support services. Angela Dias and Helena Scott (from Action in Mind, Stirling - above) amplified this issue in their presentation at the 2016 Scottish Older People's Assembly in November.  Last week they brought older people from the 'Age in Mind' project to a reception in the Scottish Parliament to speak out about their treatment or lack of it. See also Third Force News link below.

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