Saturday, July 20, 2024

PRESIDENT’S REPORT: November 2023

BY JAN PENTECOST - National President Grey Power NZ Federation INC.

I know it is hard to believe, but here we are in November. The year is nearly done and the 2023 general election has come and gone. Now we look forward to working with another Government on your behalf.

Jan Pentecost

I hope the elected politicians and their policy advisors will listen to Grey Power because we have many older people who need help and if we can make an impact now hopefully, we can leave this as a legacy for our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

I work voluntarily for Grey Power because not too long ago we were living a comfortable life and thought we had set ourselves up for retirement by investing in a small farmlet. We had a mortgage, but it would have been paid by the time we retired.
Unfortunately, six years before retirement the main breadwinner in our family lost his local government job. He had worked in that job for more than 30 years and both of us found it impossible at that time to find gainful employment.

In an effort to retain our property after we had cashed in our private superannuation and redundancy payout to pay the mortgage, feed ourselves and keep warm we, for the first time in our lives, approached Work and Income (W&I) for income support. What a horror story!

Our unemployment benefit was stopped many times following accusations from W&I that we had other sources of income. Where from I do not know because, to keep our property we sold all our cashable assets except our car, which we used mainly to drive to the river bed to hand saw fallen branches to feed our log fire to keep warm.

I do not tell our story for personal sympathy, but to thank the local Grey Power people for welcoming us into their organisation and providing friendship and support. This led us to the involvement we have today and provides the opportunity for us, along with many other Grey Power members to work to help other people when life has been unkind to them.

This opportunity has meant an enduring passion for the organisation that has helped us personally not to dwell on the past.

It has provided us with the understanding of how hard it must be for those who lose their jobs or are on very low wages, especially in these times of high inflation, all exacerbated by an inadequate health care system, insufficient suitable affordable housing, digital exclusion for some of our older people and the other issues that face those who struggle on insufficient income or have ill health and so on.

As many of you are aware, Grey Power’s membership is declining nationally and we need new members to help us. Think of the difference we could make if we were able to convince decision-makers to initiate policies that insisted on:

  • An adequate income which would mean no older person would have to go hungry and enable them to afford electricity to keep warm.
  • Warm, dry housing which would mean an older person did not have to endure mouldy walls and windows and get ill.
  • Acceptable health care which would mean that older people could receive medical treatment when they needed it rather than it depending on where they live in NZ.
  • Adequate home care and support services which would mean that older people were not left in a wet bed all day because their carer did not turn up to help them get showered and dressed.
  • Ways to assist those who are digitally excluded which would mean that no older person was disadvantaged in any way, including the loss of their independence because they must rely on others to pay bills and do other financial transactions.

The whole Grey Power family can assist in solving the many problems we hear about and provide us with new ideas. As Mattie Stepanek has said: “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”

This is what our organisation is all about but we need to increase our membership to accomplish our Grey Power vision/mission of New Zealand as a country where our seniors can live in dignity and enjoy a rewarding and sustainable quality of life.

The Grey Power Federation will achieve this by using positive advocacy to make Aotearoa NZ the best country in the world in which to retire.

It is now nearly time for many New Zealanders to start to think about Christmas so, “What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.” – Agnes M. Pahro

It is time to put the old year behind us and welcome in the new.

Thank you all for being the lifeline of this organisation. I hope you enjoy the festive season in the best way you can. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Related: September 2023

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