Seniors’ forum thrives despite financial woes

The executive committee of the Greater Athlone Seniors Forum, pictured here, make sure that the organisation is run like a well-oiled machine.

At the last meeting of the year for the Greater Athlone Seniors’ Forum, the executive committee highlighted the financial challenges of running such an organisation.

The meeting, which was held at the Athlone community centre on Wednesday November 15, also served to celebrate the achievements of some of its members who had done well at the recent National Golden Games, which was held in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday October 26 and Friday October 27.

Five of its members brought home gold medals.

The Greater Athlone Seniors’ Forum consists of 20 seniors’ clubs, and the chairperson, Sharon Lang, has appealed for more to join them.

“The forum is different to a seniors’ club, as it deals with issues affecting seniors, and gives advice and referrals, for example, where elderly abuse is concerned.

“The Greater Athlone Seniors’ Forum has clubs from Heideveld, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Silvertown, Bridgetown, Bokmakierie, Athlone and Kewtown,” Ms Lang said.

The Greater Athlone Seniors Forum is one of seven local forums which make up the Metro South Seniors’ Forum. The other six are from Mitchell’s Plain, Wynberg, Fish Hoek, Philippi, Retreat and Gugulethu.

The Metro South Seniors Forum is affiliated to the Western Cape Older Persons’ Forum and the South African Older Persons’ Forum.

Speaking at the meeting, Levona Oxcho from the Metro South Seniors’ Forum, said it was “not easy running a forum without money”.

Ms Oxcho added: “Transport is our major problem. Money is always an issue, and without it, we cannot do anything. With the Western Cape Older Persons’ Forum meetings, for example, the different regions come together, but money for transport is always a challenge. Our grievances are all the same at the different local and regional forums. I appeal to you that we must speak with one voice, and we must not compare seniors’ clubs with the forum. The forum is here for information sharing, and giving advice, for example, a relative’s drug abuse, etcetera. What we must do, is to raise funds for club representatives, so that there is money for transport for them to attend meetings.”

The forum also used the meeting to celebrate five of its gold award winners. Rosie Petersen, 77, Sharon de Villiers, 66, Johanna Luvuno, 64, and Denise Jasson, 64, all won gold for the pass the ball and kick category in the National Golden Games. Emily Josias, 81, won gold in the 100m sprint.

Although the forum members were in high spirits about their achievements, the issue of finances once again reared its head.

Said Ms Lang: “As the Western Cape team, we had no attire. We are not sponsored by any government department. We appeal to municipalities to come on board to assist us financially when it comes to the Golden Games.”

Magedien Davids, who is the Ward 48 councillor, also shared some important information with the seniors at the meeting.

He advised the seniors to draw up a will, “to prevent your children from fighting over your estate”.

He also explained to the seniors that they qualified either for a rates rebate or an indigent grant, and encouraged them to go to their nearest housing office to make the necessary arrangements.

*The South African Older Persons Forum (SAOPF) was established after a public outcry over abuse, neglect and ill-treatment of older people, 17 years ago. After public hearings in all the provinces, a report was published in 2003, called Mothers and Fathers of the Nation – the forgotten people. At a convention in 2005, hosted by the Department of Social Development and the SA Human Rights Commission, a steering committee was formed, and six months later, the SAOPF was formed. The mission of the SAOPF is to identify and articulate the concerns and needs of older persons, as voiced by them, and, in consultation with government and other role-players, to ensure that these needs are addressed in legislation, services and programmes.