The new Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, has set out her ambition to make Wales the best place in the world to grow older and is inviting a wide range of individuals, organisations and bodies – including older people, national and local government, public services, third sector organisations, the private sector and researchers – to work with her to improve the lives of older people.
Taking up post today (20 August), she said that Wales has already delivered ground-breaking policies and legislation to improve older people’s lives, and that a wide range of good practice and innovative work can be built upon to ensure that Wales continues to lead the way for older people.
Speaking at the Widdershins Centre in Pontypool, where she spent the morning of her first day in post meeting and speaking with older people, Heléna said:
“Wales has shown a strong commitment to improving the lives of older people, having developed the strategy for older people, which was a significant step forward, and creating the role of Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, the first role of its kind in the world.
“More recently we have also seen important legislation, as well as a strong focus on well-being and rights, which aim to make a meaningful difference to older people across Wales.
“As Older People’s Commissioner, I want to build upon these solid foundations, as well as on the excellent work undertaken by my predecessor Sarah Rochira, and I hope that the Welsh Government, local government, public services and the third sector, as well as older people, will work with me to improve older people’s lives and make Wales the best place in the world to grow older.”
The Commissioner’s visit to Pontypool marks the beginning of an extensive programme of engagement to capture the views and experiences of older people and stakeholders across Wales, get people talking about the changes they want to see and hear their ideas about how improvements could be delivered, which will shape both her work programme and the priorities within her longer-term strategic plan.
Heléna added: “I am looking forward to travelling throughout Wales to meet with older people from all backgrounds and walks of life, as well as with the individuals and organisations working with and for them, to hear directly about what they want me to focus on as Commissioner and to discuss their ideas about the ways we can work together to deliver change.
“Older people know better than anyone the kinds of services and support they need and where improvements are required. I am therefore looking forward to involving them in my work as much as possible from the outset, so that together we can deliver the change they want, the change that will have the biggest and most meaningful impact upon their lives.”