The campaign, launched by Age Sector Platform, has been prompted by one of the most popular motions passed at the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament earlier this year.
Having left the starting blocks over the summer, this campaign has already gained the support of over 3,500 people and we are fully prepared for a marathon of a campaign. Drastic increases in food prices, and the older population's inability to keep pace, has meant affording the weekly shop is a constant worry for many older people. At present, one in five pensioners in Northern Ireland is living in poverty. Rising food prices will push even more older people towards this hardship line.
A survey with over 1,200 older people across the Province earlier this year as part of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, and found that one in two(59%) older people in Co. Fermanagh were concerned about the price of food. This is an issue that does not seem to be going away and we believe a discount day for pensioners is a practical and achievable solution. Already we have secured a great deal of political support for the campaign from MPs, MLAs and Councillors.
It has been proven that older people spend a higher proportion of their income on food than any other age group: with someone over 75 spending almost twice as much on food than someone under 30. This means older people are finding it harder to keep up with hikes in food prices and why we are calling on food retailers to introduce a pensioner discount day to enable older people to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
When asked at the recent Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, nine out of ten(89%) older people said if a supermarket they didn't normally shop in introduced a pensioner discount day, they'd be more likely to shop there. It is clear that a scheme like this would benefit both the retailer and its older customers, and examples of similar schemes can be found throughout the world. We believe it is time for companies in Northern Ireland to start thinking about their older customers. With a growing older population, it only makes business sense to do so!
As part of the campaign, our main task will be to convince food retailers that there is a need for a discount scheme here. We are therefore asking for the support of the public in order to put pressure on companies who may otherwise fail to recognise the concerns that older people have at present. A petition has been created which can be signed online via www.silversaver.co.uk or by requesting a petition postcard on 02890312089.
Age Sector Platform Executive,