Newcastle Science City helps over 50s bite back

Two Tyneside women are taking their fight for the rights of the over 50s online with a new social media site.

Newcastle Science City is helping Irene Oxnard and Pat Madin to launch their new web-based community www.speakingasone.com to give the over 50s and their families a new way to voice their key concerns to politicians and make suggestions about how issues could be fixed.

Uniquely the site will allow visitors to communicate with decision takers and policy makers on wide range of issues such as pensions, benefits, the right to die, choice of care and the right to work with an e-vote. Votes on issues raised by members will forwarded by the site’s administrators to Select Committees, government bodies, MPs, voluntary and charitable organisations and others who are able to influence outcomes. 

Visitors will be encouraged to give their views on ‘The Big Question’ – an area of debate which is high on the current affairs agenda such as “how would you want a relative of yours cared for on the onset of dementia? The site will also provide a forum to share stories, raise issues and ask for help from other members.

Newcastle Science City has supported Irene, aged 65 from Westerhope, and Pat, aged  67 from Gosforth, with their venture as part of its work to develop science excellence and social debate within the field of ageing and health.

 “This is a social network site with bite! A site for purpose and not for profit,” said Irene.

“Through speakingasone.com politicians will learn exactly what the 50+ generations want which hopefully will result in more precise policy making and cost savings by getting it right first time.

“Today’s 50+ generations are amongst the most affluent, fit, healthy, and articulate in our society but they have significant concerns about issues including the future of care, job prospects, delayed retirement dates and age discrimination.

“There is frustration that too often their collective voice is not being heard by society and politicians. Our e-voting, blogging and discussion groups will redress that balance and will deliver a very loud and potent message to those who need to hear it.”

The idea for the site originated with Irene, a retired HR manager, who has experienced caring for family members for over 20 years.

She said: “This is something I feel very passionately about and I am extremely grateful to Newcastle Science City for all the help and advice it has provided to make the project a reality. “

Peter Arnold, chief executive of Newcastle Science City, said: “Newcastle is leading the way on scientific research into ageing and health with its work at Newcastle University’s Institute of Ageing and Health.

“This project is an example of how the city is also leading the way on the social debate surrounding the issues that are important to us all – as an ageing population. We look forward to continuing our work with Irene and Pat and to the results of their hard work and vision.”

www.speakingasone.com  is now live, membership is free and Irene and Pat are appealing to visitors to share the views and news and to anyone campaigning in the field to get in touch to explore ways of collaborating.