By the very nature of a snap election you’d be forgiven for thinking that these events took us by surprise. However, the recent election was rumoured to be happening for some time, so as part of Independent Age’s influencing strategy, we got straight to work preparing for a possible Christmas poll.
Whilst it might not seem obvious what charities have to do with general elections, these are in fact crucial opportunities for campaigners to ensure that the changes we are calling for make it on to the agenda of politicians bidding to get elected. The ultimate prize for any campaigner would be for a party or candidate to adopt your policy into their manifesto and commit to making it happen if elected.
However, for this to have a chance of happening it requires people power. To help equip our campaigners and to ensure that their voices were heard at this election we created three resources:
- A Lobby Pack – this included lots of handy information for our campaigners on how they could campaign with us during the run up to the election.
- A Hustings Guide – we sent this to the older people’s forums we have worked with who we thought might be interested in putting on an event to question their local candidates.
- A Door hanger – these were designed to be hung on the inside of a campaigners’ front door so that when party canvassers came round, they had a list of prepared questions they could ask around social care and Pension Credit.
We received some great feedback from our campaigners on these election resources and how they made use of them. Independent Age campaigner, Christine, got in touch to tell us her experience:
“I have got involved with Independent Age campaigns because I am ageing, like many of my friends, and we all worry what will happen to us when we are not the active people we are at the moment. There appears to be a general lack of understanding of the costs involved, the financial strain; both physical and mental on patients and their carers. When the strain becomes too much whilst trying to care for their loved ones in their homes, there follows a merry-go-round of attempts to place them in vastly expensive nursing care."
"The Independent Age lobby pack was useful as an aide memoir to prompt me to have discussions on the key issues. I opted to ask questions about our social care system."
"When the Conservative Constituency member called it was dark and had been raining hard all day – so not an ideal time to start a detailed discussion with him. The brief conversation centred around agreement on the need for fundamental reform of the social care system. He told me that their party was approaching this from a cross party point of view, stating that the issue transcended one particular party. I was sceptical about this. The manifesto, whilst mentioning the importance of this area, was unspecific in how it was to be tackled. No-one from the Liberal Democrat party or Labour party came round while I was at home, so I wasn’t able to question them in person.
I fed back the information I was given to Independent Age for their future work. Given we now know the outcome of the election and we have had The Queen’s Speech, which mentioned the urgency of social care reform, I look forward to campaigning with Independent Age to ensure action is taken as quickly as possible, and for a group of knowledgeable people from across all sections involved in this provision – including patients and relatives.”
We were pleased to see manifesto commitments on free personal care from the Labour Party, free social care for over 65’s from the Green Party, and the SNP have committed to calling for a Pension Credit take up and awareness campaign.
The new Government has committed to solving the social care crisis, but for too long politicians of all political persuasions have committed to reform but nothing has changed. We will continue to press them for action and we believe that free personal care for older people must be part of the solution to end the unjust situation of older people going without the care they desperately need.
We will also work with MPs across the political spectrum to ensure that those entitled to Pension Credit receive it and that no older person is faced with the situation of having to choose between eating or heating their home.
While the political parties may have finished their campaigns, we will not stop campaigning to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to grow old.