Chairman's Report

 

Bucks Older Peoples Action Group Meeting

Chairman's Report – 2018/2019

 

The BOPAG core message continues to be Positive Ageing and through our activities, help to provide older people with information which supports them to lead healthy, active and independent lives in their communities.

Personnel

BOPAG (Bucks Older Peoples Action Group) benefits from a strong Steering Group of 6 volunteers. This team have continued to set the direction and make decisions on behalf of wider BOPAG community.

BOPAG were understandably shocked and saddened by the sudden deaths of Treasurer, Patrick Arbuthnot, and Web Administrator, Chris Boulter, early this year. Both Patrick and Chris had supported BOPAG and their local communities for many years and they are much missed, not only by us but by many groups that they were part of.  We are currently seeking a new Treasurer.   

BOPAG continues to employ Andy Trueman as part time Administrator and since January 2019, Andy has picked up the Web Administration role. Andy continues to produce the much-regarded newsletter and look after all aspects of the administration.

 Key activities

To support Positive Ageing, BOPAG focuses its activities as follows:

  • help to provide older people with information which supports them to lead healthy, active and independent lives through its meetings, newsletter and website,
  • highlight consultations that impact older people and encourage participation so that the voice of older people in Bucks is heard,
  • foster good practice in engagement with older people and encourage discussion on national and local issues, working alongside Service Providers/Commissioners and relevant professionals in the design, delivery and review of services.
  • research relevant issues and campaign to ensure they are reflected in any policy/decision making process.

 Our members participate at county level and at local level as well as attending other various local meetings ensuring that the voice of older people is heard at all levels.

            The challenges and issues faced by older people can largely by covered in the following 5 areas:

    • Transport – older drivers, a reducing accessibility of public transport exacerbated by reduced county level funding, shop mobility and community transport schemes.
    • Health – awareness of aging health issues, help to stay healthy, access to services, community hubs, repeat prescriptions have all featured in this last year  
    • Community Support and Activities – Sadly community groups are struggling to continue as local council funding is withdrawn and lack of volunteers to help keep the groups running
    • Finance – such as unclaimed benefits, bank branch closures, threats to the TV licence, and retirement leasehold
    • Staying Safe – Advice with regards cold calling, phishing, doorstep fraud

By May 2018, BOPAG completed its implementation of GDPR. There was a slight drop in membership as a few members did not proactively respond to remain on the mailing list. BOPAG shared the documents that we drew up to meet GDPR requirements with our network so that other community groups could adapt them to suit their own requirements and this was welcomed by the many groups that used them.  

Website & Newsletter

The revamped website continues to be a huge success.  Designed with ease of access in mind, the website is still growing in information stored and number of hits. The website's main function is still to hold information on groups and organisations providing services and activities, within Bucks or close by, which are likely to be of interest to older people. It also holds information on regional and national organisations that provide information or services which may be useful. Where other groups and organisations have their own websites, we link to their websites rather than duplication their information. BOPAG was delighted that the Bucks County Council Online Directory was launched this year and provides an excellent resource. The BOPAG website provides links to their online database from every area, town and village page. In addition, the BOPAG website has well over 220 groups and activities and over 80 information pages listed.

Accessibility is a fundamental principle of BOPAG and not only is the newsletter is available by post, the home telephone number of the BOPAG administrator is available on the back of the newsletter which enables members to call and speak to a person. Level of enquiries via this route remain manageable (3-4 per month) and come from people without internet access who, in the majority of cases are trying to get in touch with a service or are trying to find out what social activities are on in their area. 

Summary Membership Status Report – May 2019

Groups with which BOPAG networks is the largest area of growth and we now network with just under 120 groups in addition to our 9 OPAGs (Older Peoples Action Groups) and individual members. In total, we estimate our reach to be over 4200. This is a conservative estimate as we encourage that recipients forward information to friends, family and other groups that they have links with.

OPAGs

We have 9 OPAGs. 7 are well established (Burnham, Chalfont St Peter, Chesham, Old Amersham, Lane End, Stokenchurch and Marlow Bottom) and 2 (Buckingham and Aylesbury) continue as a network of contacts rather than regular meetings and activities which typifies the long standing OPAGs.

Our OPAG membership is in the region of 500.

Affiliated Groups

BOPAG continues to welcome the opportunity to network with other groups in Buckinghamshire where we share the common interest of all things relating to older people. We now have links to 120 groups.                                                                                                       

BOPAG does not collate any membership data for the affiliated groups but for the purposes of estimating the ‘reach’ of BOPAG an estimate of 35 people per affiliated group is used giving a possible reach of more than 4200.

Individual Members

Where individuals wish to join BOPAG as they have no local OPAG or affiliated group, BOPAG welcomes them as an individual member. This continues to be an area of growth for BOPAG. There are now 336 individual members, 215 members on the e-mail list and 121 on the mail list.

Challenges Ahead

            Like many voluntary community groups, funding and volunteers are the main challenges for BOPAG in the future. BOPAG have been very fortunate to be supported by Bucks County Council in 2018’19 which has enables us to continue the website and the newsletter. It is imperative to look at other sources whilst maintaining the independence and integrity of the group.  

            It is important that we also find new people to get involved with the Steering Group to secure our longevity. We will continue to welcome new groups and individuals to our network and in turn making sure information gets out to as many older people as possible

Chairman

Bucks Older Peoples Action Group




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