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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 206

Date:- 19  June 2005

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CASH MACHINE FEAR FOR PENSIONERS

BRITAIN'S pensioners are deserting high street cash machines because of increased fears of muggings, a new survey has revealed. Over 60% said they felt vulnerable while making a withdrawal from a public cash machine and 25% say they no longer use one. This feeling of vulnerability was cited as being the main reason for older folk stopping using cash machines.

More than 10% of pensioners stopped using a high street cash machine between 2 and 3 years ago with over 7% having been subjected to a mugging or other assault in the high street. 

The stark statistics emerged from a poll of 1,500 pensioners by Yorkshire Building Society, who have recently launched an account for elderly customers. The Access Saver for Pensioners account offers a passbook and the security of transacting in a branch. The Society's survey revealed that over 55% of pensioners prefer to deal with a human cashier rather than an automated machine.

Yorkshire Building Society launched their savings account for pensioners after feedback from concerned customers. Head of Savings, Chris Edwards said:- "It is a very sad sign of the times that so many of our older citizens feel unsafe on our high streets. We have launched this account because we want our customers to feel as safe and secure as possible at all times. Being a mutual building society gives us the freedom to concentrate precisely on what's in the best interests of our customers. Although we do not charge for use of our ATMs, feedback has shown that many people still prefer the welcome of our helpful, friendly staff and the security of an office to transact in."

John Lavabre from Age Concern said:- "It's worrying that older people are feeling so vulnerable when using cash machines. Many older people live on a low income and find it easier to manage their money in cash on a weekly basis. To avoid paying cash machine charges, older people may feel forced to take out bigger sums of money, which could cause them anxiety or put them at risk of being targeted by criminals. Older people are still less likely to fall victim to crime than other age groups but increased vigilance and awareness of potential scams is increasingly important."

 REFUGEE ACCESS RECEIVES TOP MARKS

WEB-BASED Refugee Access, refugeeaccess.info, is celebrating after receiving a 5 star rating from the Home Office for its project work last year. This unique multilingual website provides an invaluable gateway to information for asylum seekers and refugees throughout Yorkshire, Humberside and Liverpool.

Top marks were awarded for the work achieved throughout the project funded by the European Refugee Fund, which included successful maintenance and promotion of the site and an increase in refugee involvement, as well as user consultation and development of the website in response to feedback. 

Created in 2002, Refugee Access was designed to help asylum seekers and refugees in every aspect of their new life, however big or small. From providing information on rights and services, including legal services, education and employment as well as health and housing to giving advice on everyday activities such as writing a CV and setting-up an email account, the website aims to cover everything. 

To ensure that everyone can benefit from the website it is fully searchable in many of the regions' commonly spoken refugee languages; Albanian; Arabic; Chinese; Farsi; French; Kurdish; Portuguese; Russian; Somali; Turkish as well as English. The project staff also run 'skill share' sessions for local Refugee Community Organisations and visit drop-ins and community venues to demonstrate the website to users and obtain feedback for future improvements and content. 

A Project Board made-up of 4 organisations manages refugee Access, they are; Lloyds TSB Foundation; Legal Services Commission; Refugee Action and the Yorkshire & Humberside Consortium for Asylum Seekers and Refugees. 

Alli Spence, Project Officer for Refugee Access, said:- "It is wonderful to have our work recognised by the Home Office and we hope that in time we will be able to extend our service to refugees and asylum seekers even further." 

Steve Robinson, Regional Manager for Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales, commented:- "This service is in high demand and is helping to promote greater integration and settlement for asylum seekers and refugees in the area. We have helped fund the project with grants totalling £40,000 and are delighted that it has been such a success and continues to go from strength to strength." 

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