What is the Role of a 50+ Forum?
The Strategy for Older People (Welsh Government, 2003) established the concept and support structure of 50+ Forums in Wales which was developed in subsequent updates in 2008, 2013). So, Caerphilly Over 50 is now rapidly approaching its 20th anniversary. Despite significant negative events, particularly years of austerity, that had severe impacts on Council budgets, and the covid pandemic, we are still active with a positive bank balance.
The Welsh Government Strategy set out the expectation that each Council should have a local 50+ Forum, an Older People’s Champion, and a Development officer/Co-ordinator at officer level. The 50+ Forums were formed to provide a strong, independent framework for the engagement of older people and a platform for their voice to be heard. Forums have a key representative role where Councils give them recognition, which they do in Caerphilly.
Definition of a Forum
Older people’s forums are a means of enabling older people and their organisations to meet together at a local level, share their views, develop their own agenda and influence their own environment. Forums identify the issues about which their members are most concerned and work to improve local services across the statutory, voluntary and private sectors. They are concerned with all issues that affect the quality of life of older people in the locality.
Forums offer a valuable source of advice to local authorities and to health bodies on older people’s issues. Many of them are involved in formal consultation mechanisms with these bodies. Forums are also campaigning organisations, trying to get public authorities to pay attention to the issues they consider important to older people.
Older people’s forums are:
- independent organisations offering opportunities to have your voice heard.
- directly representative of the views of older people – not mediated through another body.
- non-party political; and
- self-directing: they decide their own agenda and take up issues at a local, regional and national level.
Caerphilly over 50s has a strong track record in making things happen and influencing outcomes for older people – see the website – Caerphilly Over 50. Current and recent activities include:
- 360 degree video project to bring virtual walks in gardens, beaches and other familiar attractions into Care Homes and bring back memories
- A lunch club at Lancaiach Fawr
- An intergenerational project with a school and care home “Poetry Together”
- An Elvis Tribute in care Homes
- Working with the Council and Commissioner for Older People to make Caerphilly an Age Friendly Community
- Representing older people at the national level in developing policy on our ageing society
Age Friendly Communities
Not a new concept but a New Initiative. We are now working on the Caerphilly Borough Council Steering Team for Age Friendly Communities. The council have appointed an Age-Friendly Champion on their Cabinet, supported by an Age-Friendly Coordinator.