+ Simon Lepori
Q1. Where and how do older people figure in your priorities for Greater Manchester? We know that people aged 50 and over are far from one homogenous group and our needs, interests and priorities are diverse. What do you see as the main factors that will improve the experience of the older population and how do you propose to make a difference?
Older people are an integral part of Greater Manchester’s future and should naturally be given the level of priority that they require. Our Health & Social Care system needs to be much more efficient at delivering for older people across the city region, a transport system that is accessible and easy to use and a police force that older people have confidence in would improve the experience of older people in Greater Manchester, to start with.
Q2. One of the priorities for the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network is trying to make sure that older people have access to the services and support they need wherever they live in Greater Manchester. The experience of our members tells us that it is often a postcode lottery. How do you see the role of Greater Manchester Mayor in levelling up older people’s experiences, wherever they live?
There should not be a postcode lottery in public services across Greater Manchester, joined up services and provision should be accessible, even if not conveniently down the road, in which case travel support should be available. It would be my role to make sure this becomes a reality for older people in Greater Manchester.
Q3. We often see examples of generations being set against each other in the media. We believe that fostering intergenerational connections is key to improving the lives of all citizens. How do you see your role in bringing generations together to strengthen communities?
There should be more outreach and partnering services to bring generations together to build trust and respect, this can be done from schools through to our universities. We should encourage accommodation sharing schemes to tackle loneliness and community groups that are open to cross generational working.
Q4. Transport is a major concern for older people and the GM Older People’s Network has supported the idea of bus reregulation in the hope that it will provide better services and customer experience. Now it seems that this will occur, what measures will you put in place to make sure that things really do change for the better?
I will follow that plans laid out to integrate our transport system with still ticketing and easy to understand zone fares, with daily caps. We also need to push for trains to be brought into the single ticket system as soon as possible. Accessibility at some stations is appalling and needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
Q5. Neighbourhood and community safety is often a priority for older people. How would you use your responsibilities on police and crime to improve confidence and safety in communities and neighbourhoods?
We currently have a police officer for every ward in Greater Manchester, I want to lobby Central Government for resources to increase that number, allowing for partnership working in community hub settings with other professional such as; youth workers, social workers, GPs, nurses, head teachers, councillors and other outreach workers. Bringing communities together to help prevent issues and problems in the first place before they develop and help community cohesion and understanding across different age groups, faiths, ethnicities and sexualities.
Q6. Digital exclusion can be a major issue for older people. The pandemic has seen more and more services and groups move to being delivered online. How will you make sure that this doesn’t exclude older people and others who can’t or don’t want to engage with online services and opportunities? How will you make sure that post-pandemic we build our communities and connections back again?
We are the fastest growing digital city in Europe, we need to make sure no one is left behind, this means giving access to training and support to use new technology and digital services, this can and should be delivered more widely and I return to my previous answer about community hubs that can bring generations together to learn from one another.