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Council hosts first Older People's Voice Conference at Saltcoats Town Hall

Posted on 4 Dec 2023

Over 80 older residents, community partners and services for older people across North Ayrshire, came together last week for North Ayrshire’s first Older People’s Conference.

The first of its kind, the networking event led by the Council’s Community Capacity and Empowerment team provided an opportunity to firmly establish a dedicated Older People’s Voice Network across North Ayrshire’s six localities.

This involved:

  • Addressing gaps in service provision to determine how to make improvements
  • Introducing every locality to their single point of contact to help establish a dedicated action plan for older people in their area
  • Understanding what is most important to older people in the area
  • Encouraging  participants to share any concerns they may have
  • Providing helpful information and signposting to support services via a host of information stalls from the likes of Trading Standards, North Ayrshire Housing, Libraries and a host of other key community partners supporting older residents.*

The lively event had a combination of community groups, and organisations, with a shared vision to develop an enhanced Older People’s Voice Network for North Ayrshire.

This important area of work is all about ensuring that older people remain at the forefront of the Council’s decision-making in Arran*, the Garnock Valley, Irvine, Kilwinning, North Coast and Cumbrae’s and the Three Towns.

The focus of the day was to get North Ayrshire-wide representation on the real life challenges currently faced by older people, while providing a networking opportunity to get older people connected with each other.

The shared feedback from the day was then used as a positive next step forward in the right direction to establish the Council’s Older People’s Voice Participation Structure – a key area of importance in North Ayrshire’s Community Learning and Development (CLD) Plan.

The conference was also an opportunity to further understand the community provision currently out there for older people to ensure that it is included in a shared community mapping resource – set to be published in early 2024 so that anyone, anywhere in North Ayrshire knows the support out there for older residents in our local authority.

Opened on the day by a welcoming speech from Council Leader Marie Burns, she reflects: “ As Older People’s Champion for North Ayrshire Council, it was my pleasure to recently attend our first ever Older People’s Voice Network Conference.

“It was an incredibly valuable opportunity to not only meet with our older residents but also find out more about the dedicated officers and volunteers who are working so hard day in and day out in in the heart of our communities to better the lives of senior citizens across North Ayrshire.

“It is my continued goal as Older People’s Champion to ensure all older people’s voices are heard at various forums and to do my very best to make sure our older residents needs are considered in the planning and delivery of key Council policies and services.”

The Leader also emphasises the importance of the Council continuing to engage with communities, adding: “We are keen to ensure all of our communities, including older people, get the chance to participate in some of our key decision-making processes.

“Our Older People’s Voice Network Conference is the first stage in launching an effective participation structure which ensues our older people are heard and valued in North Ayrshire.

“I look forward to experiencing first-hand how this progresses in 2024. Thank you to everyone involved in making the recent Conference a success and to our older residents who took the time to come along and have their say.”

The information gathered will now contribute towards the Council’s Older People’s Voice Participation Strategy and will be used to establish an agenda for the upcoming Older People’s Voice Network locality-wide meeting. Stay tuned to social media in early 2024 for further updates on this.

Due to adverse weather, Connected Communities also worked with partners in Arran Community & Volunteer Services to ensure our older people had the opportunity to still take part virtually.

Between talks from key speakers and a series of round-table conversations, attendees also had the chance to meet some of the key Council services working on the frontline to support older people.

Housing Services were in attendance to answer any questions attendees had and to signpost older residents to any further support required.

North Ayrshire Libraries used the opportunity to promote the benefits of becoming a local library member and promote some of their initiatives for the benefit of older residents and the extended community including: learning about digital devices and accessing detail support, Kilbirnie’s new Lend and Mend Hub where clothing and textile items can repaired/saved from landfill and also info on North Ayrshire’s new Seed Libraries initiative where those interested in tackling climate change can do their part by borrowing seeds to grow their own plants and vegetables.

Trading Standards alongside Police Scotland used the event to highlight the importance of being vigilant to scammers at this time of year, and with the help of some of the Council’s Modern Apprentices, entertained the audience with a scam reenactment performance, to help the older people to learn in real-time the dangers associated with cold callers and other winter scams.

Feedback from the event included:

Arran resident said: “Really worthwhile to help inclusion, sharing information and we all feel now that NAC really does care!”

With mainland residents sharing “The day was very rewarding; we are pleased to have the chance to get our voices heard.”

“It was a good atmosphere, welcoming! Great to hear other people’s experiences and listen to presentations have a nice lunch. The Modern Apprentices did so well entertaining us too. Thank you.”