The SPF Annual Conference took place on Tuesday 9th June 2015 at the Grand Hall of the Palace Theatre in Kilmarnock with over 118 delegates registered to attend.
Jeanette Pieper, SPF Chairperson, invited Councillor Cook of East Ayrshire Council to deliver the Civic Welcome and all delegates were warmly welcomed to the proceedings and best wishes conveyed to the SPF for a successful conference.
All SPF formal business was conducted in the morning session, with motions to conference and changes to the constitution presented and considered, the presentation of year end accounts and their formal adoption by conference, the SPF Treasurers’ Report, the election of the Standing Orders Committee for year 2015/2016 by conference delegates and formal notice of the elected SPF Executive Committee for the year 2015/2016 given.
The morning session concluded with guest speaker, Tim Weir of Thompson’s Solicitors, addressing delegates on the importance of safeguarding their finances through proper wills and power of attorney, which would ensure their wishes were taken into consideration in later life. Tim was also available to speak to, and advise, delegates during the break.
The afternoon session began with guest speaker, Rosemary Byrne, Irvine Seniors Forum, who delivered a heartfelt speech on the need for more direct action and campaigning to ensure older people’s voices were heard and Rosemary encouraged delegates to get behind the SPF to ensure that more work was done, at grass roots level, to secure the rights of older people.
Her speech was followed by a light hearted and comical speech by Provost Jim Todd of East Ayrshire Council, who had come along to welcome the main speaker of the day. Provost Todd’s short talk on his unique approach to how he undertook the formal everyday business holding office entailed was met with much laughter from the floor.
The main speaker of the day, who kindly stepped in at short notice, was Ken Macintosh MSP, Labour spokesperson on Communities. Mr Macintosh had, only the previous week, declared his candidacy for the Scottish Labour leadership election and was delivering the first policy announcement of his campaign.
Mr Macintosh spoke firstly on the valuable contribution older people make to society and pledged to campaign on the abolition of the ‘care tax’, a charge implemented by local authorities for non residential care services which has put more than 14,000 older people in Scotland in debt.
Mr Macintosh went on to highlight the issues of loneliness and isolation and how these can often have a devastating impact on the wellbeing of older people. He remarked that more must be done by the Scottish Government to safeguard the essential public services needed to ensure older people maintained a healthy and secure lifestyle in later life.
Mr Macintosh then went on to inform delegates that during the first few years of devolution, all MSP’s and political parties had worked together collectively to deliver two of the most liberating policies for older people in Scotland, the concessionary travel card and free personal care, and by working together again, in the future, more could be done to secure better services and benefits for older people.
Finally, Mr Macintosh engaged in a short question and answer session from the floor before conference was formally closed by Chairperson Jeanette Piper in a vote of thanks.