The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has welcomed the cross-party support for her calls to take action to tackle the abuse of older people during the next Senedd term.
Spokespersons from Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Labour have all made pledges stating they will take action to ensure that there is a better understanding of the ways that abuse can affect older people, will raise awareness amongst the public and professionals of this abuse, and will put measures in place to eliminate abuse, either as part of the next Welsh Government or working constructively in opposition.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“Whilst progress has been made in recent years, abuse affects thousands of older people in Wales each year, and many older people struggle to get help and support that meets their needs when they are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse.
“In response to additional pressures and risks created by the pandemic, a huge amount of work has been delivered to ensure that older people access the information they need and the limited support that is currently available, and to raise awareness about abuse and the role we can all play in protecting older people.
“It is crucial that we build upon this momentum, so I am really pleased that there is cross-party support for immediate and longer-term action to end the abuse of older people in Wales.”
Welsh Labour’s Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said:
“Unfortunately, we know that violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence affects every community across our country regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or ability. It’s a stark and horrid reality, but in order to combat the problem, we must shine a light on it, raise awareness of it, and ensure that we empower victims to seek help and support.
“As part of our commitment to move Wales forward, we are working with VAWDASV services, specialist older people services and relevant authorities to ensure that the response to older victims is appropriate and effective.
“We know that third party intervention can be crucial for victims of abuse, particularly older people who are likely to have been shielding since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic.
“The Welsh Labour Government created ‘Live Fear Free’ – a free 24 hour helpline that provides help and support to victims and survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse. Our continued message to victims and survivors across Wales is clear; we are here to support you, wherever and however you need it.”
Janet Finch-Saunders, Older People’s Champion for the Welsh Conservatives, said:
“As we grow older, we do become more vulnerable, having to rely on and put our trust in other people more. Those people that abuse that trust, that take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our community need to be stopped so that everyone can live their lives free from fear.
“The Welsh Conservatives will support measures during the next Senedd term that eliminate that abuse, giving older people the reassurance they need.”
Leanne Wood, Shadow Minister for Justice and Equalities, Plaid Cymru, said:
“Abuse of the older people is abhorrent. It must be looked for, monitored and acted upon when discovered. It is also vital that efforts are made to raise awareness of it. With greater awareness and action, we have a better chance of eradicating this from our communities. I have happy to join with the office of the Older People’s Commissioner in to doing what I can, if re-elected, to help tackle this problem in the next Senedd.”
The Commissioner added:
“These pledges send a strong message to older people and their families throughout Wales that ending abuse is a key priority for political parties of all colours in Wales and that regardless of the results of the Senedd elections in May, action will be taken to protect older people and ensure they can get the support they may need.”