There is some debate as to whether the Localism Bill – which had its second hearing last week – will make a huge amount of difference to the lives of the older generation.
AgeUK is undecided on the matter – its recent survey of people’s views to the NHS changes and their desire to get involved in the debate, brought some very lukewarm results, suggesting the age group doesn’t feel it can influence ‘local’ conversation or it doesn’t necessarily want to enter into this arena.
This doesn’t bode well potentially for a Localism stance where decision-making is passed down to grass roots level to those people living/working/growing up in these communities. If the older age group doesn’t feel compelled to get involved it could be misrepresented or miss out which could have serious consequences, not least in creating a slightly unbalanced demographic.
But perhaps we should take these stats with a pinch of salt. They relate to a debate about the NHS, an organisation which this age group has grown up alongside and has had firsthand experience of from its early teething problems through to reaping the benefits of some if its greater successes.
When it comes to the wider debate and the whole issue of local democracy we think the older sector will want to be included and play an extremely active role. We have 1,500 people aged over 55 living in our 12 villages and apathy is not a word we would associate with the vast majority of them. Their depth of knowledge, vast experience and amazing drive and energy post-retirement is quite extraordinary.
We see professional people who retire and simply swap their day job for an active role in the local community – either in or outside the village, or both in some cases. People find themselves very time rich and with an extremely alert mind they want to keep occupied and put to good use – surely this spells good news for any form of Localism.
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