Halton Older People’s Empowerment Network (Halton OPEN) is working hard in your area to campaign for better services for over 50’s.  It has just received feedback from Halton Borough Council that its recent survey has had real impact and will be used by the local authority to support the falls business case, feed into the Older People’s strategic plan and help to establish an older people’s action plan. More recently several of the group’s Committee Members attended the Pensioner’s Parliament in Blackpool to campaign for better pensions and services.  Clare Lightfoot, the Forum Development Officer has also met with Mr Derek Twigg MP to highlight current issues that are affecting older people in the area.

Halton OPEN’s re-launch event which was held at The Foundry in June proved to be a resounding success in bringing service users and providers together. The event also raised awareness of Halton OPEN with many new people signing up to the Network and a few keen to take on the challenge of becoming a voluntary Committee member to help influence and encourage the development of services for people over 50+. This all-day information event showcased 27 organisations working together to promote the services and support available for older people in Halton, and kicked off with a Health Promotion ‘bar’ session showing just how little a unit of alcohol actually is. Suffice to say there were some very surprised over 50s! The day also included a workshop on the behavioural aspects of Alzheimer’s and a humorous, though nonetheless informative, review of the new Care Act. Toe-tapping entertainment was provided by Knight’s Choir of Widnes with free refreshments and lunch which was followed by a session of chair-based exercise courtesy of Halton Borough Council’s Falls Prevention team; a great way to gently burn off the calories! Altogether the event was fun, social and buzzing, with attendees enjoying a chance to meet with new and old acquaintances, soak up the atmosphere and absorb all the new information to hand. Clare Lightfoot, Forum Development Officer for Halton OPEN said “I am thrilled by the positive response we have had to this event. So many people had smiles on their faces and they really did have a good time, which is what this event was about. It’s a great turn out by the voluntary and charity sector in Halton. It just shows the fantastic and vital support they provide to our older people. Though we need to do more, it’s pleasing to know that there is information and support out there for older people”.

At the end of the event, many attendees were eager to know when the next was taking place. The 27 exhibitors in attendance were not disappointed either as they took advantage of a perfect networking opportunity. Exhibitors included Halton Disability Partnership, Age UK Mid Mersey, Halton Carer’s Centre, Safe in Town, Citizens Advice Bureau and many more.

Lorna Plumpton (Chair for Halton OPEN) summarised the achievements of the day “Bringing service users and providers together in this way is excellent and can achieve so much in terms of awareness. We have also significantly raised the profile of Halton OPEN with potential new Committee members set to join us at our next meeting in July and many more new people signed up for free membership of the Network. Very well done and many congratulations to all involved, and a particular thank you to Clare Lightfoot, our Forum Development Officer, for bringing everything together at our showcase event.” Lorna was keen also to acknowledge the attendance and support of Cllr Marie Wright (Executive Board Member for Health and Wellbeing), Cllr Eddie Jones (Executive Board Member for Economic Development – including the Voluntary Sector) and Mark Holt (Halton Borough Council’s Commissioner for Older People).

Halton OPEN’s next big event is on Wednesday, 25th November at The Heath Business Centre in Runcorn. For further information and to book a place, contact Clare Lightfoot by telephone at Age UK Mid Mersey 01928 575 400, via email to clarelightfoot@aukmm.org.uk or via our website enquiry form.

For further information and high quality images, or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Lightfoot, Forum Development