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Advocacy Plus's AGM

picture of the audience

The guests listen to a presentation

On 20th September 2011 we held our Annual General Meeting in the sumptuous surroundings of the Lord Mayor's Parlour at Westminster City Hall.

The meeting was chaired by David Bramson, Advocacy Plus's Chair for the past five years, supported by Irene Kohler, our Director and Dame Denise Platt, our Patron.

picture of Irene Kohler, David Bramson, Dame Denise Platt

Irene Kohler, David Bramson and Dame Denise Platt

Having admired the stunning 18th Floor views of Central Westminster,  50 guests, friends of Advocacy Plus, including several of our older volunteers, listened to an engaging and lively series of presentations about their work by three members of Advocacy Plus's staff.

Sarah Reilly, our User Involvement Service Co-ordinator, told us about the challenges she faced in setting up an Older People's user involvement service from scratch in January 2010 and how she and Furat Gatee, our User Involvement Worker, overcame them. She is proud of the work of our 30 User Involvement older volunteers, especially their influence in the planning of older people's services and their attendance at interview panels when older people's services are commissioned.

Kate Wolfe, our mental health and dementia advocate gave a vivid presentation about her advocacy work supporting people with dementia in Westminster's Residential and Nursing Homes. The audience were invited to imagine the feelings of a newly arrived, frightened and bewildered older person at a Residential Home. How would it feel to be sitting in your wheelchair and to be moved without being asked if you wanted to be moved? How would it feel regularly to be indicating your wishes to the staff and to have them ignored? Kate gave examples of her advocacy support for older people in exactly this position and how she ensures their voice is heard and their lives are changed.

Jan Kendall, our national Dementia Advocacy Network (DAN) Manager, presented her work in support of dementia advocates across the UK and Southern Ireland. She explained how the DAN supports dementia advocates, who are often lone workers, with little support within their own organisation, to address the challenges they face on a day to day basis. By providing training in the skills needed to communicate with people with dementia and support through sharing experiences at regular network meetings and through the DAN website and telephone helpline, the DAN gives dementia advocates increased confidence to meet their daily challenges.

a picture of Dame Denise, Duncan Tree and Stewart Cohen and D

Dame Denise Platt, Duncan Tree and Stewart Cohen

Dame Denise Platt gave a thought-provoking speech, saying how pleased she was to be Patron of Advocacy Plus, when she considered the importance of our work in maintaining the rights of older people. A change in government and the resulting cuts in local authority budgets have put further strain on resources to support older people, making Advocacy Plus's work even more vital to their long term well being.

Dame Denise commented that since the new government had come into office, older people's care at the end of their lives had somewhat disappeared off the political agenda and that the recent Dilnott report about how to finance care for our ageing population with limited resources, offered some very good recommendations.She will be watching out to see how, and if, the government put them into action.