Older people make up a significant and valued section of our local community.
As local MP I’m working hard to ensure this is recognised and celebrated.
Our pensioners have given a huge amount to the country, from military service to community work, and we have a duty to care for them.
I’ve seen countless examples of contributions made by older residents – and the brilliant work being done by local businesses, charities and community groups to support them in their everyday lives.
I was delighted to visit the popular Emsworth Day Out scheme this month.
Hosted by local charity Community First at their popular café Hewitt’s, the scheme provides a befriending network for older people and people living with disabilities across the Havant constituency.
The group, some of whose members have been attending since its inception in 1979, meet for four hours every Wednesday where they are provided with lunch, games, and bi-monthly trips to local places of interest.
I enjoyed meeting volunteer Irene Wood and the rest of the Emsworth Day Out team, who provide an excellent service including free door-to-door transport to meetings for the most vulnerable members.
Community First also operate an employee volunteering scheme that encourages local businesses to free up their employees for local volunteering projects.
Last year, a team from Pfizer pharmaceuticals on New Lane came to help with the Emsworth Day Out Scheme.
I encourage more local professionals and residents to volunteer for projects that help our oldest and most vulnerable residents.
The government is also playing its part.
I recently visited Park Homes on Hayling Island, where residents have benefited from government funding to stay warm.
The St Herman’s residential site is designed specifically for over 55s.
Government help has allowed residents to make energy-saving improvements to the site such as insulation, heating and double glazing.
Such government help has lifted thousands of homes out of fuel poverty.
Through the rise in the basic state pension and increases in the personal tax allowance, the 2016 budget also promises to help retired residents, part-time workers and long-term savers who are older.
As Havant MP, helping elderly residents continues to be one of my top priorities.
Since my election I have visited and supported the Alzheimer’s Society, Rowan’s Hospice, Age UK, and Armed Forces charities such as the SSAFA – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association in Havant.
I am exploring the idea of holding an Older Persons Information Fair later in the year to bring together all the charities, community groups, government agencies and businesses that work with and support older people.
That would be another tangible action I could take as local MP to support the senior citizens who have given so much to our community.