Wales

Action pledge by new Wales older people's commissioner, Sarah Rochira

Older People's Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira
Image caption Sarah Rochira begins as the new older people's commissioner with a roadshow across Wales

The new older people's commissioner for Wales says it is vital to act on the issues raised by elderly people.

Sarah Rochira's comments came in her first day in the job championing the cause of older people in Wales.

She told BBC Wales that it was important to "make a real difference" to the lives of older people.

The former director of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, said she would begin with a roadshow across Wales, taking in views of older people.

She has become the second older people's commissioner, succeeding Ruth Marks.

The post was created by the Welsh government in 2008, to secure support, advice and advocacy for the elderly.

The new commissioner said she had a clear focus on what was needed in the role, both as a voice for the elderly and in tackling both politicians and public servants on the issues that mattered.

"It is about shining a light on what we do, and saying to those people who do have power and influence and make decisions over the lives of older people: 'We have got to start getting it right for more people'," she said.

"We talk a lot about listening to older people, but actually, as important as listening is, we need to move on from that.

"We need to move on to action that makes a real difference to the lives of older people.

110,000 in poverty

"Too many older people - over 110,000, live in poverty within Wales. Too few older people are actively engaged in basic skills training, and too many older people suffer from chronic conditions or disabilities that impact on their lives."

"We've got to be focused - now more than ever - on making that real difference for our families."

The commissioner dismissed suggestions that at a time of austerity, there was growing resentment of the demands placed on society by a population that had once enjoyed the good life in the 1950s "baby boomer" years of post-war Britain.

"What we need to be doing in Wales, because we do live in difficult times, is pulling together," she said.

"When we get it right for older people, we get it right for our families. When we get it right for our families, we get it right for our children and young people as well, who of course one day are going to be older themselves.

"For me as a commissioner, right at the forefront of my mind, is being the strong voice for and the champion of older people - making sure that we do make that difference.

"Because when we do make that difference, we get it right for everybody across Wales."

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