Chair Letter to AGM 2017

Dear members, it is that time of year again, which was a very busy year, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce Swindon Seniors Forum’s Annual Report 2017, which sets out what we have achieved in the past twelve months and our future plans.

Membership

While some members have moved on, the overall membership of the Swindon Seniors Forum (SSF) has increased.

Representation

Feedback from our Members (2016/2017)

“Can I thank you very much for the first aid training last week. I think you could see that for many of us we were very pleased to update what we had learned earlier. The lady who did the training was excellent and encouraged discussion and did not make you feel stupid or that you could not ask questions or talk about what you had done in the past. That session improved our confidence.”

“Thank you so much for a lovely day. What we were expecting were the usual gathering of the old and lonely with couple of well-intentioned people trying to jolly us along. What we got was fun and laughter, intelligent conversation and great food; the yoga, brass band and carol singing were an added bonus. We get so fed up of shop staff and people in authority thinking because we no longer work that we have somehow lost the plot and suddenly become simple minded that to be treated as intelligent human beings was a treat. More events like this (or even every December) would be much appreciated. Please send our thanks to all the volunteers who made it such a great day for all of us.”

“I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the Senior Citizens’ meeting yesterday, 27th April 2017. Two good speakers and a delightful band that obviously enjoyed playing with children from Dorcan School – what a good idea. Well done!”

Activities(2016/2017)

I am pleased to highlight, in our review, some of the areas in which our Management Committee has been active during the past year which included, among other things, a conference.

Members of SSF attended first aid training in November 2016 which the group did in a relaxed atmosphere and we all thoroughly enjoyed the session; certificates of First Aid course attendance were given at the end of the training.

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Christmas Lunch: A day of ‘Music and Merriment’ was held in December 2016 at Broadgreen Community Centre, the event was organised by Newton and hosted by SSF inviting other lunch clubs from Broadgreen. It was a great day, good atmosphere and we all thoroughly enjoyed the day.

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Members of the Management Committee met with Robert Buckland MP QC on two occasions to discuss key issues concerning loneliness and to arrange the holding of a Loneliness Summit. A number of follow-up meetings were held to plan and arrange the summit.

Norma and Michael attended the Dementia summit in November 2016. The event was aimed at bringing key stakeholders, community and business leaders together to improve the lives of people with dementia in the area.

Healthwatch Swindon hosted a joint event around the theme “Ageing Well in a Dementia Friendly Swindon”. Norma and May attended, handed out leaflets and engaged in promoting the SSF and raising its profile.

A number of the Management Committee members have been attending Swindon 105.5 radio station on regular basis to comment on local issues and news affecting the over 55s.

The Chair of the SSF, Norma Thompson, was invited by the Chair of Involve Swindon , Tony Martin, to give a short talk about why the loneliness Summit is being planned and the desired outcomes. About 70 people were at the Involve Swindon session and they were all very interested in finding out more about our initiative.

Two of our members attended the Swindon Community Fair 2017 h eld in the Queen's Park Secret Gardens. The theme revolved around well-being and it was a day of networking and making new friends.

The SSF Video

A video on loneliness and isolation with equalities issues was made with some of our forum members which was shown at the Loneliness Summit. It was organised by Keith and Hannah of Swindon Viewpoint. The video can now be watched on this link.

Management Committee Business

Committee Members’ Activities

The SSF continues to be invited to several local and regional activities and inititatives. Furthermore, members of the Management Committee are involved in many groups and organizations and have represented the SSF at various events. Reports from these are discussed at our quarterly Committee meetings and relevant information appears in the SSF newsletters and website.

Amendments to the Constitution

The Management Committee has decided that our constitution needs amendments and a new draft to reflect the current work of the Forum and we will seek your approval for this. A revised document will be circulated to members after discussion at our Management Committee meeting.

Spring 2017 Open Meeting

Our Spring Open Meeting was held at the Grange Community Centre on Thursday 27 April 2017. Participating speakers included ageUK and U3A (University of the Third Age), and the main theme was about ‘Keeping Up Todate with Your Financial Entitlements’.

The following links contain more information on the event:

The Loneliness Summit



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Our main area of work was focused on the Loneliness Summit. The Swindon Loneliness Summit was held at the Lawn Community Centre on 30 June 2017. Swindon Seniors organised this Summit in conjunction with one of our local MP, Robert Buckland. The event saw representatives from the police, Swindon Borough Council, Swindon Circles, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Mental Health and the voluntary sector, as well as members of the Forum, join forces in a bid to tackle this issue and highlight how we can all make a difference to what is an ever-growing problem. A follow up to this Loneliness Summit will be held later in the year.

Funding

This has represented a year of progress for the Forum with a strong year in terms of funding. The Forum obtained funds from Friends and Forum Small Grants Age UK and The Joffe Charitable Trust. As a result, we were able to attend more activities and purchase more effective promotional items, including equipment.

SSF Priorities for the Coming Year

We shall continue to:

  • Seek new funding to enable us to continue with the work undertaken over the past year, in particular, the “campaign to end loneliness”, making loneliness history in Swindon, and to continue to raise awareness of our Forum"e;s activities and profile, as well as expand our outreach programme and increase our membership;
  • Raise the profile of our Forum and give a voice to all Swindon’s senior residents, especially those at a disadvantage;
  • Publish the bi-annual Newsletters and maintain the Forum website as well as hold the bi-annual Open Meetings and respond to feedback;

We are looking for some of our Forum members/volunteers to join our Management Committee and strengthen the Committee. We are also looking for website assistance and secretarial support – a chance for members to enhance their skills as volunteers.

Members Standing for Re-Election

Our management committee consists of eight volunteers, who have between them strong connections with other voluntary and statutory organisations, working with local people over the age of 55. The following volunteers are currently serving on the Management Committee:

  • Norma Thompson, Chair
  • Kay Malko, Acting Secretary
  • Kris Jones, Treasurer
  • Carol Brownlee, co-founder
  • Paul Burgess
  • May Evans
  • JB Gurung
  • Ghada Rule

Jeanette Koza, a long-serving member on the Management Committe, stood down due to other commitments. We are greatful for Jeanette’s considerable and numerous contributions to both the Management Committee and to the Forum and while we are sorry to see her leave the Management Committee, we wish her the best of luck.

The SSF Website And Newsletters

Two editions of the SSF newsletter have been produced and circulated to all members.

The Forum’s Website is updated on monthly basis. The website could be a mine of useful information and considerable practical suggestions. Please take time to visit the website and give us your feedback.


I should like, as ever, to thank our excellent volunteers on the Management Committee for their continuing hard work and dedication.

Thank Yous

The SSF extend their gratitude to all the partners who have supported and aided us throughout the year.

With special thanks to our departed patron Lord Joffe who was very supportive of our work, including a large donation from his charitable trust . Sadly Lord Joffe passed away in June this year and will be greatly missed . Thanks also to the following establishments for their support throughout the year:


  • Friends and Forum Small Grant Age UK
  • Santander Bank, and
  • Swindon 105.5 radio.

The SSF are also grateful for the kind donation of vouchers and gifts for our Open Meeting raffle, which was a huge success:

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  • Morrisons supermarket, Eldene - refreshment vouchers.
  • Sainsbury, Bridgemead - voucher.
  • Asda (Walmart) North Swindon - raffle prize.
  • Wilko Fleet Street - voucher
  • Marks and Spencer

Our thanks extend to individuals who have helped us to achieve a successful year and for their commitment to the future.

Thank you to each and every one of you.

Norma Thompson, Chair
Swindon Seniors Forum
24 October 2017