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Melksham leads the way as age friendly town

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Martin Pain new chair of Melksham Seniors

New and improved services for elderly people are on the cards with improved dropped curbs, state-of-the-art pavements, more toilets and new community benches all being earmarked.

Mayor cllr Jon Hubbard

It follows a special ‘older persons’ themed meeting of the Melksham Area Board on 22nd October when mayor cllr Jon Hubbard gave an update on what the community can expect to see in the coming months.

He said elderly people in Melksham will start to see services being improved to help them live a better life, part of an ongoing campaign to make the community more age friendly and to tackle ageism.

“Firstly our community benches scheme will mean more benches are popping up across the area and we are delighted that our town and surrounding parish councils all rose to the challenge,” said cllr Hubbard. “We had an excellent number of requests for new benches to be put in on walking routes, to encourage and support more people to get out and to walk.

“We have also been working to get more toilets accessible for the public to use while out and about.

“I am really pleased that the town council has now earmarked funds for re-opening toilets down in Bath Road and hopefully they will open at some point next year, and are already exploring options for the toilets on Church Street.

“Also please be aware of things like the new fitness equipment in the park, the intergenerational work being done between the senior community here in the town and schools and youth organisations, and the work to improve dropped curbs, signage and state-of-the-art pavements.

“Our job is to continue to make sure when we are making investments, we are doing so in a way that creates and maintains our age friendly community.”

More recognition for Melksham’s ‘age friendly’ role

 The news comes at a time when Melksham has again been recognised as a leading force for change in the ‘age friendly’ movement.

In recognition of the town’s work to make improvements to ensure that people of all ages can actively participate in the community, the chair of Melksham & District Seniors Forum 55+, Martin Pain, has been selected to chair the South West Seniors’ Network.

The network comprises of regional forums and older people’s groups from across the entire South West and West of England that acts as a policy lobby and advocacy group. They  ensure that matters relating to issues that affect the lives of older citizens are debated and brought to the attention of policy makers.

Martin’s appointment follows a whole host of achievements for the town as part of the ‘age friendly’ movement. Last year, Melksham become the first rural town in the country to join the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities. And more recently, Melksham seniors played a key role in a report  presented to the House of Lords about key issues affecting the lives of older people.

Speaking to Melksham News, Martin said, “Melksham is seen as being in the forefront of age friendly policies and community-based volunteerism and in recognition of this, I was elected chair.

“Time and again, delegates and speakers at the AGM (held on 30th October) praised the people of Melksham, its various clubs and hobby groups and its enshrined policy to make the town ‘age friendly’, citing it as an example that other communities may wish to emulate.”

“People may remember that Melksham, strenuously supported by its area board, is the first rural town in Great Britain to be declared ‘age friendly’ and as such received recognition from the United Nations and the World Health Organisation in joining this worldwide initiative to capture the knowledge, talents and aspirations of our senior citizens and make them available for the progress of everybody and all generations in our community.”

The special ‘older persons’  area board meeting on 22nd October also featured a talk from Nayyara Tabassum from the Centre for Ageing Better, a charity funded by an endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund, striving for more people in later life to be in good health, financially secure, to have social connections and feel their lives are meaningful and purposeful. Nayyara presented facts and figures on national trends from the recent publication The State of Ageing 2019: www.ageing-better.org.uk/publications

Joe Pitt from the Centre for Sustainable Energy talked about the ‘Safe and Warm Wiltshire’ project and the importance, to older people in particular, of issues of energy efficiency, damp and condensation, fuel poverty, funding and schemes for home improvements, budgeting, water saving, managing bills, fuel debt and discounts.

For further information: Freephone: 0800 082 2234 Referral link: www.cse.org.uk/referral Email: warmandsafe@cse.org.uk

A report on the event outcomes and a bid for funding will now be made to the Melksham Area Board at its next meeting on Wednesday 13th November.

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