Yesterday we picked up the current edition No 294 of Mature Times. There were a few very interesting articles that relate to us so perhaps you will find some of our comments of interest.
The universal benefits we would miss the most would be a) Future of the NHS, b) Winter Fuel Payments and c) Travel concessions. We use our bus passes a great deal and driving outside our local district is not enjoyable, and we go out as much as possible.
Our standard of living is definitely falling. We have recently given up our subscription to English Heritage as so many of the bills have increased. (I may add we don’t drink or smoke, go to the cinema and theatres, and rarely go out for a meal.) Apart from the standard bills i.e. rates, electricity, water, the majority of our money goes on food, which has also risen over the last month. We do use our credit card (ONLY ONE) but only if we know we can pay it off at the end of each month.
We are both in our late seventies and have been retired for many years and neither of us get full pensions and therefore do not pay tax. How much longer can this go on?
Malcolm & Ann Turner
All of our elected representatives, local councillors as well as Members of Parliament, should spend a whole morning just riding the buses in their own patch to see how difficult it is for the pensioners they represent to cope with ordinary day to day travel. I stress an entire morning – not some cursory five minute, hop on/hop off, done that, tick box affair.
They will then learn about the problems facing the elderly simply to get on and off buses with various physical limitations as well as having to manage walking sticks, bags and shopping trolleys let alone zimmer frames and wheel chairs. They should also gain a real appreciation of the role that bus drivers now play in helping to keep OAPs on the move.
It would provide our elected representatives with a much better understanding of the real benefits of the OAP bus pass which, apart from being a financial help, also removes the otherwise necessary scramble to find the right change for every single journey which could cause havoc with bus timetables.
Colin P. Hadley, Exeter
Recently, I listened with great interest to a radio report about the destructiveness of loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly. Unfortunately, it appears to be a negative emotion that is invisible, but nonetheless invasive within our busy world.
One of the many ways however, that this terrible situation can be helped is with the use of the free bus pass. We consistently hear protests from younger people that pensioners receive too many ‘perks’, never mind the fact that the majority of us have worked all our lives, paying tax for this benefit.
Interestingly, too often we hear how housebound people never see anyone from one day to the next. This is a very disturbing dilemma which needs to be addressed with some urgency.
However, if mobility is something that older people are still blessed with then the bus pass offers them the chance to escape the confines of their four walls for a while, and explore the big outdoors. It is their passport to continued independence which helps stave off the dreaded loneliness and depression.
Time and again, while using my bus pass, I chat to people who like to make a ‘day of it’. They pack their lunch and ride through the towns in order to find adventure. There is always someone to pass the time of day with if you have a mind to.
Obviously, our public transport is invaluable for shopping and hospital visits, as many elderly people are involuntarily isolated otherwise, possibly due to giving up driving. However John Betjamin used to say in the old Shell driving adverts, “The world is your oyster” and therefore we should make the most of it while we can.