For the last two months, I have been travelling across Wales meeting and speaking with people who are tenants of housing associations. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to find out about the work of the Older People’s Commissioner and let me know what matters most to them.
The role of the Older People's Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, is to stand up and speak out for older people across Wales. That is why it is so important that we meet with people and talk with them about what matters most to them.
Older people across Wales have told us that they want their lives to have value, meaning and purpose. The people I have met as part of this series of visits have echoed this.
Public transport, especially buses, has come up time and time again. There is huge concern about the cuts to routes, but also the location of bus stops and the need for benches and bus shelters. Public transport helps people to get out and about and maintain their independence, allowing them to stay in touch with friends and do things they enjoy, as well as getting to doctors and hospitals. People have told me that they are really struggling to get to health appointments and visit loved ones in hospital.
Tenants have also told me how much they value the people who work on site for housing associations, particularly those who support activities and social events. Tenants had also clearly built strong friendships with their neighbours, which has resulted in strong communities. The link to having a good quality of life is clear – people who are not isolated are less likely to be lonely and suffer from depression. Many people were worried that this support may be cut and told me that staff were a lifeline; “I don’t know where I’d be without them” has been a common refrain. It is a testament to the hard work of housing association staff that their services are so valued. It has been inspiring to meet people who show that individuals really can make a difference.
I am looking forward to meeting many more housing association residents and staff over the next few months.
If you would like someone from the Older People's Commissioner for Wales to visit your scheme to let tenants know about our work and listen to their views, please contact Kate Hughes, Engagement Coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org or 08442 640670.