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Commissioner bill could save lives

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By Ben Murray
Dumfries and West
Commissioner bill could save lives

DUMFRIES charity Food Train is backing a movement to create a commissioner for older people in the hopes that it could save lives.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has lodged a bill in the Scottish Parliament which would create the role to champion and protect the rights of older citizens.

Food Train is urging MSPs to get behind the action – and for the public to highlight their support – as a consultation on the Proposed Commissioner for Older People in Scotland continues.

Food Train supports more than 3,000 older people across Scotland, providing a range of services to help them eat well and live well in their homes, as well as a significant force in the drive for greater action to tackle malnutrition among older people.

Colin Smyth visited their headquarters and community hub in Dumfries town centre to speak with some of their members and volunteers about the challenges they face, and how he hopes a commissioner could help to tackle them.

Food Train Chief Executive Michelle Carruthers said: “A commissioner could ultimately help not just improve lives, but save them by ensuring the critical needs of older people are met – including their right to food.

“The needs of older people are far too often overlooked. Charities such as ours shout as loud as they can.

“But a commissioner would amplify the voices of older people in the heart of Government and hopefully create accountability and visible progress in tackling issues such as malnutrition and loneliness.

“The lack of a commissioner for older people is a wrong which needs to be put right.

“We are pleased that MSPs are getting the chance to do exactly that and would be delighted to work alongside a new commissioner from day one.”

Mr Smyth added: “It‘s fantastic to have the backing of such a well-respected charity for my proposal for an Older Person’s Commissioner.

“Every day, Food Train supports people in later life across Scotland through their fantastic work, so they understand the issues affecting older people and the benefits a Commissioner would bring to raising these issues.

“Many of the volunteers at Food Train are older people themselves and we need to highlight the role people in later life play in our communities, which would be an important part of the job for my proposed Commissioner.

“We have an Older People’s Commissioners in Wales and Northern Ireland doing a great job, and a big campaign for one in England. Why should older people in Scotland be any different?

“An Older People’s Commissioner would be the independent voice, championing the rights of older people that was missing during the pandemic, and I am delighted Food Train agree.

“I would urge others who back my plan to take part on my consultation on my website or by contacting my office.”

n For details about how to take part in the consultation for the movement, visit www.colinsmythmsp.com or call Colin Smyth’s office on 01387 279205 before the closing date on September 12.

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