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Take time to chat in support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Retain Community Engagement

Avon and Somerset Constabulary are showing their support for the United Nations World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this weekend and asking local communities to recognise the value older people bring to our communities and how a simple “hello” could make a big difference.

The UK has a swiftly aging population. Age UK estimate that there are currently around 12 million people aged 65 and above currently living in the UK. 

The day aims to focus global attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of older people.

Sadly there are a growing number of criminals who seek to take advantage of our senior community and exploit the frailty that comes with older age to steal from and deceive them. Older people can be more vulnerable to cons and fraud, doorstep crime, distraction burglary and online/telephone scams.

17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week. This isolation can leave people more vulnerable. We can all make a difference by just saying hello and keeping an eye on our neighbours. Not only will it reduce loneliness and perhaps mean they have spoken to someone that day, but it can reduce the likelihood of them being victims of crime.

One initiative that Avon and Somerset Constabulary hope will help to tackle isolation and solitude within the community is the introduction of a ‘Chat Bench’ in Vivary Park in Taunton and on the Sea Front in Burnham-on-Sea facilitated by local PCSO Tracey Grobbeler.  

Tracey commented: “The Chat Bench is a very simple concept, where a sign is placed on a bench, typically in a park or a town centre, in a location used by a good cross-section of the community. The sign is then used to encourage those using the bench to have a chat with each other– it’s as simple as that!

“The sign simply helps to break down the invisible, social barriers that exists between strangers who find themselves sharing a common place. We can all play a part in keeping our communities safe. Simply stopping to say ‘hello’ to someone at the Chat Bench could make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our communities and help to make life a little better for them.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Any form of abuse is completely unacceptable and it fills me with sadness to think that this cruelty happens to members of our elderly community.  The Chat Bench is fantastic new initiative that I hope encourages those of all ages to start many more conversations in the future. If you think an elderly friend, neighbour or relative is vulnerable or at risk of loneliness, I encourage you to stop by and say ‘hello’, it really could make a huge difference to that person.”

Five ideas that start with “Hello”

  1. Smile and chat to your neighbour
  2. Help with an event at your child’s school
  3. Don’t just pack your food shopping in silence, chat to the cashier
  4. Join an event in your community
  5. Look up from your phone!
Posted on Thursday 13th June 2019
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