Senior citizens’ issues heard by CoJ

Ward 83 councillor, Suzanne Clarke with the trolley bag given to the senior citizens.

“Often, your voices are not heard. This is something we want to change, you need to be active community members who participate in democratic platforms,” said the Speaker of the Council, councillor Vasco da Gama during his key note address.

Senior citizens were invited to join a Senior Citizens Engagement Forum at the Roodepoort Town Hall on 16 May, where they were given the opportunity to raise the issues and challenges they face on a daily basis.

From left: Charles Dibedi (Health Promoter), Councillor Vasco da Gama (Speaker of Council), Doreen Muthwa (Health Promoter) and Thabang Mpiti (Princess Clinic). Photos: Adéle Bloem

“It gives me a great pleasure and delight to be here with you today. Your presence here today and at many of the forums and initiatives of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) is a firm indication that you care about what happens to your communities, and to you,” said Da Gama.

He added that, although old age is usually a time to enjoy, look after yourself and enjoy some much deserved rest, this is often not the case. “We are aware that instead of enjoying your old age, you have assumed a new role. With your little old-age grants you have assumed the roles of bread-winners, care-givers to your children and grand-children, and overall pillars of your families,” he said.

Speaker of Council, councillor Vasco da Gama.

The senior citizens were assured that the CoJ’s biggest priority was to combat poverty among senior citizens, and that the city has various poverty relief and empowerment initiatives run by the Department of Health and Social Development.

The services the city wants to provide to older persons include:

• Social support, like luncheon clubs and bereavement support

• Better nutrition in the form of healthy meals, information on nutrition, provision of food relief and the creation of food gardens

• Promotion of a healthy lifestyle

• Empowerment by giving talks on elder abuse

• Economic empowerment

After the Speaker’s address, the senior citizens were given the opportunity to raise the issues and challenges they experience on a daily basis. The councillor for Ward 83, Suzanne Clarke, was the programme director for the day, and she assured all present that these issues will be taken up with the relevant departments, and a feedback session will be arranged.

The session was then concluded, and everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a lovely lunch, whereafter they could visit some of the city entities that were also present. These included the Department of Home Affairs, Pikitup, Revenue Services, Citizen Relationship and Urban Management and the Health Department. The health promoters gave all the senior citizens the opportunity to have a free blood sugar and blood pressure test.

The senior citizens did not leave empty-handed, as they each received a grocery trolley filled with groceries, warm socks, a hot-water bottle and some other goodies to take home.

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Adéle Bloem

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