Charge for day centres hurts elderly people

THE council, in its wisdom, has decided to charge elderly people to attend their local day centres.

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Each day, about 22 pensioners attend Carnwadric Church in Thornliebank.

Organisations such as the Rainbow Day Centre offer welcome relief from the crippling loneliness too many of our elderly neighbours live with on a daily basis.

Recent research found that older people who have little human contact are more likely to suffer health problems.

As a result, getting out to a day centre is a lifeline to many who would otherwise spend their waking hours staring at the television with nobody to talk to.

So it is unfortunate, to say the least, that Glasgow has decided to make some of our most vulnerable citizens pay for the only chance they have to get out of the house.

The council says many other local authorities charge for day services and in Glasgow, the charge is based on the ability to pay. It insists up to 50% of services users are not being charged anything at all.

But charging up to £15 to visit a day centre will be a step too far for many older people, who will now also have to pay for the five annual trips they go on each year. That is on top of the £20 they already pay to the centre for their accommodation and travel on the outings.

One 93-year-old who attends the Thornliebank centre said: "I have to pay £45 for the week, but if I didn't come here I would vegetate."

Pensioners get free bus passes regardless of their ability to pay and get the basic state pension, regardless of how much money they have in the bank.

Why should day care services be any different?

Many elderly people worked their entire lives and are too proud to apply for benefits they know they would be entitled to.

Although they may have saved hard and have a little money in the bank, they worry about how long it will last. For them, a charge of £15 is money they feel they can ill afford.

So far, only a couple of people have dropped out because of the new charge. But that is a couple too many.

Glasgow, like every other council in Scotland, is strapped for cash. But surely it can find the money to fund the cost of allowing our older people the chance to chat with friends?

Hundreds of millions of pounds is being spent bringing the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow. Council bosses say it will bring a lasting legacy to the city.

But our pensioners are a living legacy for the city and should be allowed every possible opportunity to lead as fulfilling a life as possible.

Perhaps our council bosses should switch off their phones and spend a week on their own to see how they like it.

vivienne.nicoll@eveningtimes.co.uk

Finance

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