Pensioners are doing it for themselves

Posted on 12/04/2019

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Far from retiring to a life of gardening and card games, pensioners in Britain are increasingly taking action to make the world a better place.

An army of older people and those living with disabilities are stepping up to help make the UK more accessible.

A new app – See Around Britainhas been launched to map out the most accessible shops, cultural attractions and other public places in the UK and Europe to the disabled and elderly.

The charity behind the app has come a long way since it was first established more than 20 years ago, which began with its founder Marg McNiel taking more than half a million photos of public places. What began as a passion project for McNiel, who was born with a mobility impairment, has now become a vital way for us to know which places are accessible before visiting them.

See Around Britain is also calling on the public – both old and young – to help build the database of accessible public places. The charity hopes that by getting people involved in the app, they will help raise awareness of the needs of disabled people, and how to best meet them.

Anyone can contribute by writing venue descriptions, undertaking photo and video surveys of new venues, giving admin or editorial support, or contributing social media.

For those with more time on their hands, a new campaign has been launched to encourage more older people to train as lifeguards. The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) hopes its #BeALifeSaver campaign will attract more members of public to the role, who might not have previously considered it as an option.

Jo Talbot from the charity explains:

Our #BeALifeSaver campaign has been developed to make the most of the untapped work force right on their doorsteps – actively retired people, students, people with dependents or who can only work part-time.

But it’s not just about helping others, pensioners are also standing up for their own rights. For example, one group, backed by the National Union of Journalists, the National Pensioners’ Convention and the Age UK charity, are campaigning to save their free access to TV.

In the UK, watching TV needs a licence and for more than a million pensioners, the TV is their constant companion and window on the world. And now it’s under threat.

The campaign has been launched because the BBC is considering removing free TV licences from the over-75s.  Licenses for older people used to be paid for by the Government, but they have they pushed the scheme onto the BBC without providing the funding to sustain it.

Age UK say that removing older people’s access to TV would be an unthinkably cruel blow when many are already facing huge challenges.

Half of all over 75’s are living with a disability, and many rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment. For those who don’t have the internet, TV lets them stay up to date with what’s happening in the world.

From saving lives to saving TV licences, Britain’s older people are at the front line of the nation’s life.

Picture credit: Age UK

This post first appeared on Grit Daily