Cambridge City Diversity Forum

Cambridge City Diversity Forum.

This meeting concentrated on issues facing the elderly population and drew a much smaller crowd than the previous one that was looking at the changes to welfare benefits.

The meeting was a series of presentations followed by a wider discussion on the issues and some thoughts on what the City and others could do in the future.

In some ways the Cambridge is facing different issues than many of the surrounding areas. The relative numbers of older people in the City are not growing as fast as they are in surrounding districts and the ‘explosion’ in the numbers of elderly residents in the future is not likely to be nearly as high as in some places. That said the City is a destination for many people to shop, use services, access health care etc. and that means that many more elderly people than actually live in Cambridge are visiting, this has implications for the council and for groups putting on services.

We heard presentations on the

  • Community navigator scheme offered by Care Network. Find out more here
  • Cambridgeshire Celebrates Age project. There is a lot of information, as well as a list of events planned for the future on their website.
  • Work of the City Council neighbourhood projects that support many groups aimed at the elderly and the work that is done at the different community centres. More information about what is happening in the different wards can be found here.
  • Work of the Housing Support team at the City Council and how they can support council tenants (and others). More information on housing support can be found here and information on independent living and the community alarm system can be found here.

Throughout the presentations we heard about the importance of community groups and volunteers to help support elderly people, and to help identify individuals who have support needs. The meeting recognised the importance of helping both existing groups as well as individuals needing help setting up new groups. CCVS are able to do this and if you need support please email us.

Two of the key issues faced by elderly people were loneliness and transport. Both these issues were stopping people getting involved and reducing people’s health and wellbeing. Loneliness is being recognised as a significant issue for the elderly with estimates suggesting that it has the same effect on life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Check out the Campaign to end loneliness to find out more and also to find out how you can help. You can also contact the national charity Contact the Elderly who have a number of schemes in the area.

The issue of transport has been raised at a number of meetings, and this affects all the population regardless of age. Public transport in both the City and surrounding districts is being cut, and can no longer really be called public transport as it is run as a very profitable business by global companies interested primarily in shareholder return. That said there is some funding put in by local councils and there is an ongoing County Council consultation happening. More information from their website.

More and more councils are cutting services and reducing spending in order to meet government targets. The City Council has managed to preserve its grant levels, all be it with no inflationary raise, and remains very committed to supporting community groups to provide services and support. However more and more it is being left to communities to help themselves, the myriad different voluntary groups do this day in and day out. These groups provide an important lifeline to individuals as well as helping them to access services that keep them fit and healthy. The work of these groups has to be recognised and supported by all the statutory bodies or they will find that the demand for their services will increase. CCVS calls on councils, health organisations, the emergency services and funders to recognise the importance of the work of small voluntary organisations, to recognise the amount of money that these organisations save the state, and to fund these organisations to ensure their continued growth and prosperity.

If you want help with your group, or help setting up a new group CCVS are there for you. Contact us on 01223 464696 or email us.

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