I joined Westminster City Council representing Warwick Ward in May 2006. When interviewed prior to becoming a Councillor I stated that what I really wanted to do was to make a difference to the lives of many of the elderly who live in Westminster. I was very grateful to be made Westminster’s Older People’s Champion.
The appointment of an ‘Older People’s Champion' is something new which some, but not all Councils have adopted. I had virtually a blank sheet of paper to define the role and the objectives, but invaluable support from Sir Simon Milton, who was then Westminster’s Leader. It became clear that the key aspects of the role were:
- To be a special point of contact for senior citizens across Westminster to help address all manner of problems.
- To inspect and review our many existing facilities for older people, and to act as an ombudsman where clearly changes and improvements were needed.
- To organise major, attractive entertainment events. Here the key challenges were to line up the sponsorship/funding and to establish the machinery to communicate forthcoming events and to organise the bookings from our older citizens.
Westminster had decided to launch “Every Older Person matters” at the time and also launched a quarterly magazine called “Westminster Plus” which is now circulated to every person in Westminster who applies for
a Freedom Pass – over 21,000 people. I jointly edit this journal with NHS Westminster, but the input is very much a combined effort from people working in Westminster’s Adults Department.
My main objective is to give older people in Westminster things to look forward to, which can accommodate as many of them as possible and is really special. The Grosvenor House has again agreed to hold and
jointly sponsor a free Tea Dance in their Great Room for a 1000 Westminster Residents aged 65+ for the third year running. Last Year we had a free Music Hall at the London Coliseum for 2000 older residents and carers and this year Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful company are giving 500 free tickets for the Phantom and 500 free tickets for Les Miserable for our older citizens..
Our next issue of Westminster Plus is aimed specifically at Men, and I am delighted that Lords Cricket ground are very kindly providing some complimentary tickets for Westminster residents aged 65+ starting in
April 2010, so that is something to look forward to!
Westminster now also provides lots of classes for older people covering territories from Computers to Bowls.
I hate the idea of older people being lonely, but was very heartened when someone said to me that the best place to live if you were old was definitely Westminster!