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Issue Date:- 26 August 2008


OLDER people in the North West who are struggling with the spiralling cost of living could be missing out on financial benefits that could help improve their lives, according to leading older people’s charity Help the Aged. An estimated 310,000 pensioners in the North West (24%) are living in poverty and struggling to afford essential household items, yet 10s of thousands of older people in the region aren’t claiming the benefits they’re actually entitled to.

Help the Aged estimates that approximately 520,000 older people in the North West (around 36%) are eligible for pension credit, yet just 359,620 currently receive it. The Charity is encouraging older people in the region to find out if they are eligible for the benefit - pensioners who claim before the beginning of October could receive 12 months of payments backdated.

Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser for Help the Aged, says: “The cost of living is rising and the number of pensioners living in poverty is rising – so older people who are feeling the pinch should make sure they’re doing all they can to get the benefits that are rightfully theirs.  Older people in the North West should find out today if they’re entitled to benefits such as pension credit, council tax benefit, or housing benefit. Even if people have made an unsuccessful claim in the past, changing circumstances and changing benefit levels may mean they are now eligible for money that can make a huge difference to their daily lives.”

People can find out if they are eligible for benefits by:-

* Getting a copy of the Help the Aged benefits advice leaflet, Can You Claim It? from or 020 7239 1845;

* Calling SeniorLine, the free Help the Aged advice line on 0808 8006565;

* Calling the Pension Service advice hotline on 0800 991234 or visiting;

* Visiting a local Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau or British Gas Help the Aged Benefits Advice Programme.

Nationally, 2.5 million pensioners live in poverty and Help the Aged is today publishing a policy statement setting out what the Government should be doing to tackle pensioner poverty. The Charity is calling for:

* Benefits to be paid to older people automatically, without them having to claim – this would mean the £5 billion unclaimed benefits for older people each year could reach the people who really need it.

* Local Authorities to set clear targets for reducing pensioner poverty and work with the full range of local partners to meet those targets, ensuring access to good quality benefits advice and information.

An invitation to join the team

ST John Ambulance Merseyside will open the doors of its flagship headquarters in Liverpool during the weekend of 27 September to 28 September 2008 to hold a further induction weekend for adults who wish to become members of this thriving organisation.

Attendance on both days is necessary and the course will run from 9:30am to 4pm each day at 2 Edgar Street, close to Liverpool City Centre.

There is ample car parking at the venue and a light lunch will be served each day.

Commissioner Operations, Simon Galley, says:- "St John Ambulance volunteers provide a valuable service to the local community. 

We are looking for new recruits to join the team now as we are receiving an increasing number of requests for first aid cover at events throughout Merseyside during the Capital of Culture year."

Full First Aid training will be given to those who successfully complete the induction course.

For an application form and to reserve a place please contact John Johnson on 0151 298 2838.

Intergenerational ties stronger than people think

THE beliefs that young and old people have nothing in common and we are a nation who don't know our neighbours are urban myths, according to new research.  The vast majority of Brits (86%) say they socialise with people outside their own age group, with more than half saying they do it often or all of the time.

New research for the Full of Life campaign shows 69% of us agree that we have things in common with people of different generations - evidence that age is not an issue when making friends. As for our neighbours, only five per cent of Brits are not on first name terms with those next door and 58% socialise with them. 

Young people have the broadest social circles with 67% of 15 to 25 years olds regularly spending time with those older or younger than them - higher than any other age group.

63% also dismiss the idea they don't have things in common with other ages.

Youth charity The Prince's Trust and Age Concern both confirm ties between the generations are stronger than many people think.

Martina Milburn, Chief Executive of The Prince's Trust says:- "Thousands of young people on Prince's Trust schemes support their community every year, with many actively volunteering to help older age groups. There are young people across the UK with energy and enthusiasm that, if harnessed, could be a powerful force for change."

The same is true at the opposite end of the age spectrum. Half of over 65 year olds regularly socialise with people older or younger than them. Again, 65% disagree that there's no common ground.

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, adds:- "Older people clearly have an important role to play in their communities, and many already give much of their time and expertise to others as grandparents, carers and volunteers. Negative, ageist stereotypes often disappear when different generations come together and learn to understand and appreciate each other. Breaking down barriers in this way undoubtedly lays the ground for building stronger communities."

Intergenerational hot spots

The top places we socialise with people outside our own age group are at family gatherings, with neighbours, at work or at the local pub. Women are more likely to socialise with people of different ages through their children or whilst out and about in their neighbourhoods and men, through a hobby or at the local pub.

Keeping things close

We are alive to the benefits of being chummy with our neighbours with 19% of people regularly spending time with them. In fact, only 5% of Brits are not on 1st name terms with the people next door. When asked why, 55% of us want to feel part of our communities. This is second only to security on people's list of neighbourly priorities. With 27% of us admitting we don't have a friend that lives within a 5 minute walk from us, neighbours and community are increasingly important.

Pensions Minister Mike O'Brien says:- "We share the same streets and supermarkets and this research shows that, contrary to popular opinion, we do know each other.

People of all ages want to know the people who live around them and to feel part of a community and enjoy socialising and supporting each other.

UK Older People's Day on 1 October 2008 is the perfect opportunity to build on this and get to know older people in your neighbourhood making sure no one is left out - whatever their age."

For more information on Full of Life and UK Older People's Day, including tips and advice on running your own event, visit

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