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Good Neighbours: Newham community charity giving a voice to older people

Violet White Violet White

Thursday, January 23, 2014
7:00 AM

A local charity is providing an invaluable vocal platform for senior members of the community.

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The Older People’s Reference Group (OPRG) has been running for 12 years and focuses on engaging older people in the borough.

The organisation discusses current affairs and community issues that interest or particularly affect members, allowing them to have a say about topics concerning them.

OPRG chair Violet White, 86, said: “The members are interested in all sorts of things. We have speakers at some of the meetings and they discuss social services, new policies, anything that is interesting with regards to the health and wellbeing for older people in Newham.

“Sometimes the members request speakers about a particular thing.”

The monthly meetings are regularly attended by about 30 people, although Violet said the group’s membership was considerably larger.

“We can’t expect everyone to attend every meeting. They are varying ages and states of health. Some are very disabled; we arrange transport for them.”

Meetings are sometimes held in social housing so residents can become aware of the group and join it. The OPRG focuses on encouraging members to stay mentally active.

“They’ve got these disabilities but they really don’t give up, which we encourage within the group,” Violet said.

There is also an elected smaller committee of representatives who travel to events around London on behalf of the group.

The OPRG are supported by the council and Age UK East London and relies on funding to operate.

Violet said: “People who don’t get involved with local affairs or groups are the ones who seem to think their voices aren’t heard. It’s a vicious circle.

“But people do listen to old people and we’re always looking ahead.”

To find out more, call David Holland on 0207 241 5906.

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