Call for Minister for older people

NO 10: Sandra Belcher (left) joins TV celebrity Esther Rantzen and Anchor's chief executive Jane Ashcroft to hand in the petition to Downing Street
NO 10: Sandra Belcher (left) joins TV celebrity Esther Rantzen and Anchor's chief executive Jane Ashcroft to hand in the petition to Downing Street

A HARTLEPOOL woman has travelled to London to hand over a petition calling for an elderly representative in Parliament.

Retirement housing manager Sandra Belcher went to 10 Downing Street with the list of over 5,000 names of people from Hartlepool, and more than 137,000 from across the country.

The petition is in support of the Grey Pride national campaign by Anchor, a not-for-profit organisation which provides housing and support for the elderly country-wide.

It is hoped the petition’s weight will help persuade the Government to introduce a Minister for Older People so that issues concerning the elderly are heard.

Fifty-seven-year-old Sandra also lobbied Hartlepool MP Iain Wright who took the campaign to the House of Commons, launching an early day motion calling for such a post, and asking Prime Minister David Cameron about the campaign during Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Sandra was accompanied at Downing Street by celebrity Esther Rantzen, Anchor’s chief executive Jane Ashcroft, and other members of staff and customers from Anchor properties across England.

Sandra who works at Linton Court, in Wiltshire Way, Hartlepool, said: “Lots of cuts are happening during this time of austerity, and it’s important that older people’s views are heard when decisions are made about issues that affect them.

“We want a Minister for Older People with access to cabinet so that the voices of the elderly are taken into consideration when ministers make decisions on such issues as the winter fuel allowance, care funding and pensions.”

Sandra, a mum-of-four with 11 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren, added: “There is a Minister for Women and a Minister of State for Children and Families, but as it stands, no one individual is responsible for ensuring older people’s issues are given the priority they deserve.

“My colleagues and I are passionate about improving the well-being of older people. “Older people have provided a lot to their community and still do so, whether it is volunteering or looking after their grandchildren while their parents go out to work, so the Grey Pride campaign is about celebrating this and their achievements over their lives.”

In addition to the 137,000 people who have signed the Grey Pride petition, the campaign has been supported by 94 MPs, who have either signed the petition or an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband also appointed Liz Kendall as the Shadow Minister for Care and Older People thanks to the campaign.

More than 20 organisations associated with the care industry and 15 celebrities, including Richard Wilson, Anita Dobson and Tony Robinson, have supported the campaign.