Newsletter September/October 2018

Dear Reader,
On the Horizon
The summer has come and gone – very quickly. First it was too hot, then it was too cold, and we have had to activate our central heating in the month of August. Strange happenings! I tell myself I must not be a bearer of bad tidings, but it’s difficult not to.

It’s September, and soon it will be the AGM (see the formal notice in the Diary Dates section on the back page) and do consider whether or not you could serve the Forum as a trustee (phone the office or call in on Monday at St Mauritius House to find out more).

But before we arrive at that point, there is Pensioners Day, which will be held on Wednesday 3 October at the Broadway Theatre as per usual, with the theme of Promoting Well-being and Combating Inequalities when, once again, we will be having some excellent Speakers, Professor Gillian Manthorpe of King’s college, London and Marion Watson on the Therapeutic Quiet Garden in Ladywell. There will be the entertainment, as usual, something to look forward to. Please see the notice on the back page and help us spread the word by passing the enclosed flyers on to friends and neighbours. All are welcome.

Health and Social Care
Now that the Windrush saga is low key (but do be aware of the one-to-one sessions offered by the Home Office in Honor Oak on 17th September—see Diary Dates section), there are still undercurrents, but there is still BREXIT to consider, and it seems that the media is focusing on other matters, such as Theresa May – you know who she is – touring around Africa making trade deals. I think it’s time to come back closer to home. Let’s focus on what is in store for us in relation to our care under BREXIT.

Cuts in social care continue to intensify (see the letter to MPs reproduced on page 3), and politicians are scratching their heads to come to an agreement about how to fund the services. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have devised a plan for investment now, based on a survey carried out across the nation. Their report shows that there will be £700m cuts this year alone. Their report also shows that 1.2m older people will not now receive the social care to which we are entitled. The cuts are being effected in many areas, such as the facilitating of transport of patients to hospitals to receive the care the patient should be receiving, and the Directors actually admit that “fewer older people with complex care and support needs are getting social care, amounting to the redefinition between the relationship between State and Citizen”. In fact politicians are scratching their heads to find solutions to this.

Three quarters of Social Care Directors concur that reducing the number of people requiring social care is “important” or “very important”, and nearly half of those will be increasing charges. Although 43% of Directors posit that these changes would directly affect older people only nine of the 152 Directors are positive about Health and Social Care in their areas. Do you suppose that, if we could identify those nine areas we could all move there?

The research shows that 33% of the Directors are contemplating self-help approaches, and assistive technologies, whereas 27% echo they would be doing more for less. So what can we decipher from all this? Less care would mean more infirm older people blocking hospital beds, being denied nourishment of any kind.

That, however, is not the end all and be all. The anticipated results of the cuts could be a shortfall of 6,000 Doctors, 12,000 nurses, and 28,000 care staff within five years (DHSC) as a result of BREXIT, and the research by Global Features predicts that 100,000 fewer people will be employed as carers by 2026, due to the restrictions or limitations of non-indigenous employees. This has resulted in Health Authorities stockpiling medicines just in case there is a breakdown in the EU medication regulations. {sic} There is much food for thought in the foregoing.
[Source: “Silver Voices”]

Something to look forward to
You will, no doubt, recall that in the previous Newsletter I gave a report on our Blackpool excursion, and that we were seeking funds to take a group of members to Pensioners Parliament in June 2019. The dates will be from Monday 10 to Thursday 13 June. We are planning to travel by coach. Should we succeed in obtaining funds for this, there might even be no cost to yourselves, except to have your own shopping money. (There is plenty of shopping up there, and prices are good.) If, however, we do not succeed in obtaining funds to take you there and/or pay for accommodation, you will need to save, or perhaps your child or children will assist you. So I’m informing you now so you can begin saving early! We are aiming for a full complement of members, to make the sums add up, and so look out for more details in the next newsletter. Please bear in mind though, that although you will have some time for yourselves, it will not be a holiday (especially if the costs are paid for or subsidized by external funding). You will be expected to attend all sessions of the “Pensioners Parliament” and on return to London we would like a written summary of your experiences, which we could collate.
Bridgit Sam-Bailey Chairman

Autumn—consultation season

(and before you cut you need to consult…)

The Council (deprived of Business Rates by being primarily a dormitory borough and subject to central government caps on Council Tax increases) are facing the unpalatable task of making significant spending cuts from March 2019.

It is probably the continued reduction in Main Grant spending that will have most impact as many key service providers and those residents who use or rely on them will be affected. (This is, of course, the source of the Forum’s core funding.) The consultation on this ends mid October and there is a link through the LBL Portal — We suggest that as many people as possible should respond.

It is very chunky survey to get to grips with as there is a lot of background reading included and to answer takes hours. But it is crucial to the future of the Third Sector in our Borough.

If anyone would like a print out phone the office or call by at St Mauritius House on a Monday.

Gloomily there are also impending cuts in spending on preventative health (see below). The consultation on the report just put in to the HCSC (Healthier Communities Select Committee) will run through to the first week of November. Again, say your say.

Also be aware of proposals to cut direct bus services to Central London, primarily the 53, 171 and 172. Yes, we can hop from bus to bus but it’s not so easy with mobility issues or grandchildren and South East London is badly enough served by public transport routes into the centre of town. The LPF will share details of the TfL consultation mid-September as soon as we know more.

On the brighter side—we are a wonderfully green borough, and with a survey on a New Strategy for Parks and Open Spaces the Council is asking for help in identifying priorities. (So not actually where the axe will fall with least damage, although “priorities” does mean that we can’t have everything.) A chance, perhaps, to ask for more seats or even public toilets that are open.

Social Calendar

Broadstairs was a long drive, but a good day out; and by pure serendipity we hit upon the week of their Folk Festival. We don’t usually re-visit places but are seriously thinking of making our way back there next August, with an advance look at what’s on in their Festival. Let the office have your views—Broadstairs again, or somewhere different?

This month we are closer to home. A member has suggested Kenwood House in Hampstead. This is not easy to get to by public transport so, LCT to the rescue, we’ve a minibus booked for Wednesday 26 September. A place on the bus will cost £7, or the adventurous who are prepared to walk or tackle north London buses (!) can make their own way (closest underground stations are Golders Green or Archway then a 210 bus) and just meet us there. The house is open from 10am to 5pm and offers “stunning artwork” (Rembrant to Turner by way of Gainsborough and Vermeer), “gorgeous gardens” (the park designed by Sir Humphry Repton) and “amazing architecture” (Robert Adam).
Phone the office to book a seat on the minibus or to say if we can hope to see you there.

Then next month, we’ll venture underground into the Chislehurst Caves. Many of you will know of these and perhaps went to gigs there in years gone by—for those who haven’t heard of them, they are an amazing labyrinth of a former chalk mine which over the last century has been a mushroom farm, bomb shelter and music venue. On Thursday 18 October we will catch the 11 o’clock train from Lewisham to give us plenty of time to get onto the 12noon tour of the caves. Entrance charge for seniors is £4.
Please let the office know by Monday 8 October if you plan to join us for the train, or if you’re making your own way there, as we will need to make a group booking.

Some messages from Maureen of the Lewisham Pensioners Gazette:

“We still aim to serve all the pensioners in our borough and as far afield as the internet will allow.
“We only ever publish your story when you have told us you are happy with it. We always make sure you see the finished article before it goes on-line.

“If you are not confident with IT please get a family member, or friend, [to help you look at our website]. We really need to know what you think.*

“LPG are appealing to find out if anyone has any really old copies of the Gazette (pre-1998). If so please contact us. We would like to complete the LPG archive.”
020 8690 5324

*or come along to the Monday Project and check out their website on one of the tablets the LPF have to try there [ed.]

NHS Local Campaigning

Things might seem relatively quiet on this front, but the expertise that came together for the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign five years ago is still keeping a sharp eye on developments, digging deep into documents and reports and going to meetings with the Local Authority and in Portcullis House. Some Forum members play a key role in this crucial work and if anyone feels they can also contribute just get in touch through the LPF office or go to the SLH website.

The following letter sent last month to one of our Lewisham MPs highlights current concerns.

To: Vicky Foxcroft MP (Lewisham Deptford)
Dear Ms Foxcroft,
Re: Public Health underfunding in South East London

I am writing to you on behalf of SELSON – a network of health campaigners in South East London.1 We have been writing to all South London MPs over the past few months highlighting our concerns about NHS issues in our area. A number of you have responded indicating that you share our concerns and we are pleased to say that some of you have now met with us to discuss the issues and how we can work together to address them.

We are concerned about the funding cuts to Public Health services, and the impact they are having on the people of South East London. In this letter we particularly wish to highlight the impact on the residents of Lewisham. We will also be writing to other MPs in South East London about the issues of concern caused within Public Health in their boroughs.

Funding to deliver public health services across England has significantly reduced over recent years, and the planned cuts to the public health grant to local authorities average 3.9% a year up to 2020/21. This adds up to a reduction in spending in real terms of at least £600 million a year by 2020/21, on top of the £200 million already cut from the 2015/16 budget.2

The changes that have been made in public health spending in Lewisham do not seem to have reflected the needs of the population. Some of the cuts have resulted in people being unable to access essential public health services. Children’s services are a clear example. 27% of Lewisham’s children live in low income families and 24% of its children are obese. The cuts being made in the number of health visitors and school nurses was already causing alarm in the borough in 2016. Then, in its budget report for 2017/18, the council acknowledged that “nursery schools will see very significant reduction in funding” in order to ensure the necessary reductions in public health funding are met.3

In the BMA paper, “Feeling the Squeeze” the following passage outlines clearly the dangers consequent upon inadequate public health funding.

“Budget reductions and the knock on impact on service provision is likely to have a detrimental impact on population health, increase future demand for treatment services, and risks widening health inequalities … A 2017 review highlighted that for every £1 spent on local and national public health policies, there is a return on investment of over £14, and that cuts to public health services were likely to generate substantial additional costs to the healthcare system and wider economy.”4

Given that local councils are not now in a financial position to afford the necessary spending that is needed for an effective public health service we are asking that you and your fellow South East London MPs should ask for an significantly increased ring-fenced budget to be given from Public Health England to Local Authorities, at the very least to compensate for the substantial cuts from 2016 to 2020. This would benefit not only local people but would lead to reductions in demand on the NHS and, therefore, seems to be the only sensible way forward.

Yours sincerely
Wendy Horler on behalf of SELSON

  1. The SELSON network includes representatives from all parliamentary constituencies covering the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark – i.e. the population whose health is the responsibility of the South East London Clinical Commissioning Group or Partnership. The network includes Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign (SLHC) and other South London borough groups.
  2. Chickens coming home to Roost David Buck
  3. Section 9.5 and 9.6 Public health Grant
  4. Feeling the squeeze. The local impact of cuts to public health … – BMA

As this newsletter is being sent off to the printers a report is being presented to the HCSC giving detail on the inevitable cuts following a nearly 3% reduction of 2019/2020 in central government funding for already stretched services. This includes proposed reductions to Neighbourhood Community Development Partnerships, substance misuse & health visiting.
Do join SLH in taking issue on these developments.

Campaigning can be committees, reports and
paperwork as well as getting out on the streets.
Tony O’Sullivan (Co-Chair of KONP) and Louise Irvine (BMA Council Member), both veterans of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and still actively defending our NHS.

Christmas is just round the corner!

We’ll soon produce our annual flyer detailing where lunch and companionship is available on Christmas Day. But we don’t want to leave anything out! So if you know of plans to provide this essential service please put Tamsin in the LPF office in touch with the organisers by mid October.

Dates for your diary

  • Thursday 13 September: PosAC (on Crime Prevention, Scams, Security and Safety) 11am to 1.30pm The Civic Suite, Catford, SE6 4RU
  • Fridays 14 & 21 September: Forum Table in the Riverdale Centre, Lewisham—come along to say “hello” and pick up latest survey, flyers, petitions etc. 10.30 to 12noon. Plus opportunity to purchase Pensioners Day tickets.
  • Monday 17 September: Home Office taskforce offer of help for Windrush and Commonwealth Citizens, Honor Oak Community Centre, Turham Road, SE4 2JD (343 bus route) 4pm to 7pm (and Freephone 0800 678 1925)
  • Wednesday 26 September: Social Group trip to Kenwood House, Hampstead (see above)
  • Thursday 20 September: Ageing Well in Lewisham LCC AGM Goldsmiths Centre, Castillion Road, SE6 1UY at 3pm after their regular Thursday “Silver Lunchtime” session
  • Wednesday 3 October: Pensioners Day
  • Fridays 5 & 19 October: Riverdale Table (see above)
  • Monday 8 October: Budgeting round table workshop (1pm to 2pm within the Monday Project)
  • Thursday 18 October: Social Group trip to Chislehurst Caves
  • Thursday 25 October: Vintage “Tea with a Twist” for elders at the Moonshot Centre 2pm to 4pm (see below)
  • Wednesday 31 October: Moonshot Heritage Gathering stories about the rich & radical history of the Moonshot, Pagnell Street and Fordham Park 6pm to 8.30pm
  • Friday 2 November: Riverdale Table (see above)
  • Monday 12 November: Budgeting workshop (see above)

Notice to all Forum members
Lewisham Pensioners Forum AGM

with mince pies and Christmas goods for sale Civic Suite, Catford Road, SE6 4RU
10.30am on Wednesday 28 November
Trustee Nomination Papers available on request from office—020 8690 7869—at St Mauritius House on Mondays or at Pensioners Day
(non-members also welcome but will not be able to vote)

Every Monday we’re in St. Mauritius House, Lewisham Park, SE13 6QX 10.30am to 3pm with activities (knitting, chess, puzzles, etc.), ukulele at 11am, the Friendship Quilt, at 1pm and our Digital Drop-in 1pm to 3pm (one-to-one IT guidance).
You are also very welcome to call by between 10.30am and 2.30pm to sign up and/or pay for trips, to just say “hello”, or to raise anything with us.

Two Black History Month Events with IRIE!

Thanks to funding from the Deptford Challenge Trust, IRIE! invites you to two events at the Moonshot Centre, Angus Street, Fordham Park SE14 6LU (see above).
Getting there: Bus 225 stops at Fordham Park.
Buses 21, 53, 136, 171, 172, 177, 321, 453 and 436 stop at the Marquis of Granby a 5 minute walk away.
Contact IRIE! for more information or to let them know if you are coming to either event. 020 8691 6099 IRIE! Is also running free dance classes for women of all communities and ages at the Moonshot Centre on Wednesdays at 10am – just come along!