Letter: Older people need a little help

This letter sent to the Star was written by Mike Smith, A South Yorkshire Freedom Rider (S70)
South Yorkshire Freedom Riders rally outside Sheffield Train Station.South Yorkshire Freedom Riders rally outside Sheffield Train Station.
South Yorkshire Freedom Riders rally outside Sheffield Train Station.

On Monday I bumped into an old friend in Barnsley who I learned had moved to Gateshead from Penistone. After a catch-up I asked if he had the Gold Card (which allows free Metro train travel in the north east).

His eyes lit up! Very animatedly he described the pleasure of just getting on a train to visit Newcastle or Sunderland or just going to the beaches such as Whitley Bay.

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For him, his family and tens of thousands of others the benefits of the North East Gold Card were clear – healthier than when I’d last seen him, happy to be out and about with his family and with enough money to spend on local facilities and visits to museums and independent shops.

As someone online has pointed out, as we get older we need a little help to lead independent lives.

A Sheffield City Region Gold Card should long ago have been available to allow us new adventures, new horizons. Maybe no beaches but reservoirs, museums, friends and relatives and so much more.

The Guardian printed a letter last week which sprang from an article by Adrian Chiles concerning depression and anxiety suffered by the elderly, and which I think says much, much more clearly than I ever have:

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“…don’t treat old people as wallpaper. We’ve learned a lot the hard way, and the most important lesson of all is that life is for living.”

And “older people “no longer finding much pleasure in the things they used to enjoy” worried me.”

It’s long worried myself and thousands of others.

But apparently not those we’ve elected to represent us. Many of us have learned a lot in a very, very hard way in an area of health affecting heavy industry and one of the worst state pensions in Europe.

It’s within the power of mayor Jarvis to do one of three things – reinstate the full concession using the ENCT pass out of the SYPTE budget as it was once delivered, create a precept so that everyone contributes a few pence a week or a self financing Gold Card costing about £12 per year per pensioner.

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For several months now mayor Jarvis has refused to budge, refused to comment or explain his reason for his stubborn silence. This demeans the code of conduct and the office he holds.

We expect decent treatment, good manners and to be heard with respect. And an explanation. And a date for the full reinstatement.

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