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News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards

11 June 2019

Clicking on these dates will take you to the relevent reports from Trading Standards:

A Message from Disability Rights UK

4 April 2019

“Help shape the future of the NHS and care

Disabled people, those living with a long-term health condition and their families, now have the opportunity to help shape the future of services in England by sharing their experiences of the NHS and the care system with the regulator for the NHS in England – The Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Care Quality Commission logo

The CQC acknowledge that they have not previously planned the future of NHS and care services with input from disabled people and their families, so they are asking that we invite you to share with them, in confidence, your experiences through their Tell Us About Your Care programme. It allows you to provide the CQC first-hand with your experiences – during hospital stays, GP visits, accessing care services, etc. You can also do so anonymously. The simple to complete questionnaire will ask you for details of the location of the establishment and to describe your experiences as a user of their services.

The Tell Us About Your Care page can be located this link. Once you have completed the questionnaire, we ask that you share this message with your family and friends so that they too can offer their own experience.

If you are unable to complete the survey online, please call us Monday – Friday on 0330 995 0400 and choose Option 1 (afternoons are quietest) and we can complete the survey for you and send your response to the CQC on your behalf.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be a key provider of evidence to help shape the future of your care.

Kind regards.

Michael White
Information Officer, Disability Rights UK
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The NHS Long Term Plan

02 April 2019

Louise Stratton, Healthwatch Engagement Officer, who spoke at our recent meeting at Coventry Foyer, has sent us the following letter and invitation:

Healthwatch Logo

The NHS Long Term Plan

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for the warm welcome at your recent meeting. Healthwatch Coventry would also like to thank COV members who took time to complete the questionnaire about what you thought were important factors for the NHS to prioritise when planning local services.

We will be shortly moving on to the next phase of this project which will be to hold some focus groups to help inform the project in more detail. We would like to explore what people need from the NHS to ‘be able to age as healthily as possible’. It is proposed that this session will explore various topics including:

  • what currently works for people to remain as well as possible
  • what else needs to happen and how, including what the role of technology will be (the pros and cons and what challenge this will present)
It is likely that this session will be held on one of:
  • Tuesday 7th May
  • Wednesday 8th May
  • Thursday 9th May

Only one focus group will be held, this will be decided by people’s availability.

The session will run from 10.00 – 12.30, and the venue is likely to be Queens Road Baptist Church. Tea/coffee and biscuits will be provided.

People coming along to the focus group will be able to claim reasonable travel expenses; we can reimburse a mileage rate and car parking or bus fares.

Please express your interest by emailing your contact details here and saying whether you would be available on any of 6th, 7th and 8th May 2019, between 10 am and 12.30 am. I or another Healthwatch team member will then get back to you. Please note that only one focus group will take place on one of the days. The information that you send will be shared with Healthwatch, and will be used only to contact you about the Focus Group.


Louise Stratton, Healthwatch Engagement Officer
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A Report on the COV Meeting on 5th March, 2019

12 March 2019
Photograph of the audience at the meeting
David Spurgeon opens the meeting
The meeting was opened by Committee member David Spurgeon, who summarized COV’s activities over the past year.

Bridget Harper (Acting Chair) then spoke about funding issues, including Age UK’s decision to stop providing COV with administrative and financial support. She told us that this meeting, and the recent COV Newsletter, had been funded by the West Midlands Police Active Citizens Fund.

Bridget then introduced Richard Plumb, of West Midlands Police, who had kindly agreed to speak to the meeting about how to avoid becoming a victim of cyber-crime.

Photograph of Richard Plumb
Richard Plumb
Richard, a self-confessed "computer geek” and ex-professional gamer, said that people in COV’s age group, while not the most vulnerable to computer hacking, were more susceptible to various types of fraud than other age groups. He also pointed out that online banking, often considered to be risky, was in fact more secure than other methods. This was because transactions over the Internet were easier to track than cash transactions, which were often completely untraceable.

Richard then spoke about passwords, including the need for strong passwords, how to generate them, and how to remember them. He also gave some advice on not following links in emails, “phishing”, and telephone fraud. We all agreed that Richard was an excellent speaker, and his advice was well received.

Richard has provided us with two documents on cyber-crime, which you can read or download here:

  1. How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cybercrime

  2. Cybercrime Crib Sheet.pdf

The meeting then moved on to consider the official AGM business. Reports from the Treasurer and Membership Secretary were approved, as were changes to the Constitution made necessary by Age UK Coventry’s withdrawal of support. You can read a copy of the updated constitution here.

Next, Bridget spoke about some of the “areas of engagement” with which COV had been involved over the past year.

Louise Stratton then gave a short talk on Healthwatch Coventry. She told us that the NHS had a ten-year plan to improve local services, which included encouraging healthier lifestyles, and benefitting from improved use of technology. Healthwatch Coventry are carrying out a survey on behalf of Healthwatch England, to gather the public’s views on these matters, and she distributed copies of a questionnaire to COV members attending the meeting.

Photograph of Richard Plumb
Bridget Harper, Richard Plumb and David Spurgeon

The meeting concluded with a discussion on several topics that had been identified as important to COV members, including the Shopmobility scheme (especially the location of the new premises), and the obstruction of pavements by cars, cyclists and advertising boards. Other issues included the apparent lack of a Councillor devoted to older people’s concerns, and the Friends of Longford Park and their activities.

In her closing remarks, Bridget Harper said that there were vacancies on the Management Committee, and asked anyone who was interested in becoming a member to contact her using the Contact Us page of this website

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Consultation on a Public Spaces Protection Order

01 March 2019

Coventry City Council are proposing to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in St Michaels ward, to combat drug use and associated anti-social behaviour.

If the order is approved, it will affect the City centre and surrounding areas.

The main effect would be to give the police “the power to request that groups of two or more that are behaving in an anti-social manner or in a manner deemed to be detrimental to those that would otherwise be enjoying an area will be asked to move on”. To refuse to do so would constitute an offence, and could result in the issue of a breach notice and a fine.

The Council are seeking the views of the public, and have created an on-line survey. You can read more about the PSPO, and complete the survey on their website, here.

You will need to do so by the end of the consultation period, which is 15th March.

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Age UK Campaign to Keep Free TV Licences for the over 75s

28 February 2019 Photograph of TV Licence

Free TV licences for the over 75s are currently paid for by the Government, but this responsibility is shortly to be transferred to the BBC.

The BBC has to decide what to do, and could simply end the free licence scheme. Please note that at the moment they have not made any decision.

Age UK say that “removing older people's access to TV would be an unthinkably cruel blow when many are already facing huge challenges”, and they are campaigning for the Government to continue to provide the funding.

Full details of the changes, and a link to an online version of the petition, can be found on the Age UK site, here.

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COV Members Assist with Research Project

12 August 2018 Research participants sitting round a table

COV members have been taking part in a research project (the “Maturolife” project) with Coventry University, which aims to improve the design of “Assistive Technologies”. These are used in products which improve the quality of life for older people (especially those with disabilities) and may enable them to live independently for longer.

The researchers are concentrating on footwear, clothing and furniture. In the past the products have often been considered ugly, uncomfortable or unreliable, so they are attempting to overcome these limitations, and they believe that one way to do this is to involve older people in their design.

As part of their involvement, COV members Irene Shannon, Val Cawley and Diane Hackford attended a co-design workshop at the University, to help in the development of prototype solutions.

There may be more workshops in September, so if you are interested in taking part, do get in touch with us via the “Contact Us” page, and we will pass your contact details to the researchers.

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COV and Age UK Coventry

24 July 2018


Age UK Coventry (AUKC) played a major role in the formation of Coventry Older Voices in 2013, and have provided significant financial and administrative support since that time. They funded our newsletter, website, postage and office expenses. They also financed and organised events, and provided a secretary, who was a part-time AUKC employee.

Regrettably, they are no longer able to provide this level of support. We haven’t fallen out! It’s simply that AUKC have suffered a sizeable reduction in their revenue (largely because of a cut in funding from Coventry City Council). AUKC have been obliged to reduce their expenditure, which has also meant cutting services and making some of their own staff redundant.

We are extremely grateful for AUKC’s support over the past 5 years, and we feel sure there will be areas in which we can work together in the future. Although we are independent organizations and work in different ways, we both want to maintain and improve the quality of life of the older people of Coventry.

But this change in our relationship means that COV will now have to find more of its own resources – both financial and administrative.


silhouette of overworked secretary with head on desk

We have a new Secretary, who takes over from AUKC employee Abtar Sanga. The Management Committee have appointed Phil Lovett to the role. Phil has been a COV Committee member since January 2014, and supported the previous secretaries with their duties. Phil is currently also Newsletter Editor and Website Manager, and the Management Committee hope to be able to appoint one or more people to take over some of these responsibilities soon.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Abtar for his invaluable contribution during his time as Secretary.


Replacing the funding previously provided by AUKC is going to be a major challenge, but we have had some success already:

However, this does not mean that we can relax our efforts to obtain an income. We will have to be vigilant in our continuing efforts to finance our activities, and we face continuing uncertainty about how successful we will be in the future. Ideas from our members about potential sources of income (funds to which we can apply, activities we can undertake, etc.) are welcome.

hand held out as if begging

We are aware of cases of undue pressure being put on older people to donate to various causes, and don’t want to be guilty of this, so donations are welcome – if (and only if) you can afford it.

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Data Protection and COV Membership

24 July 2018

The first half of 2018 saw two important developments affecting COV and its members.

Cartoon drawing of a man holding a large key

Firstly, COV’s relationship with Age UK Coventry (AUKC) has changed significantly. COV has always been an independent organisation. However, AUKC was deeply involved in its creation, and subsequently provided us with a great deal of assistance – both financially and in terms of administrative support. Regrettably this will now be reduced, as you can read in the accompanying article, here. In particular, AUKC no longer maintains our membership database, for which COV is now solely responsible.

Then, on 25th May of this year, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. This is a law intended to protect the privacy and security of individuals, and applies to all organisations, including COV. It has been criticised by many, who think that it is a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”, especially when applied to small non-profit-making organisations such as COV. Indeed, the authority responsible for enforcing the GDPR has indicated that, initially at least, it will not penalise groups such as ours for non-conformance.

However, these two events provided us with a spur to update our membership database, which, admittedly, needed some attention. That is why we sent emails and/or letters to all of our members, asking them to confirm that they wanted their membership to continue, and to let us know how we could contact them in future (by post and/or email and/or telephone). This will prevent members from receiving unwanted communications. The initial response was pretty poor, so we sent a second round of emails, and attempted to contact members without email addresses by telephone. We made it clear that those who did not reply would be removed from our membership database.

From an initial membership of over 500 we received nearly 200 responses. Consequently, at the time of writing this article, COV now has 199 members.

Of course, we are disappointed that our numbers have decreased substantially. On the other hand, we are now certain that all of our members are “genuine” – i.e. that they want to receive communications such as the Newsletter and invitations to meetings, and that they are interested in what COV say and do.

Some people may have failed to reply to our GDPR consent requests, but still wish to remain COV members. If this applies to you (or if you know someone else in this position) please accept our apologies. We don’t want to lose you, so do get in touch, and we can re-instate you as a member.

PS. one of the requirements of the GDPR is that we let our members know our policies regarding data privacy and security, which we are happy to do, and which you can read here.

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Bench is a Poor Return on Money and Effort

08 July 2018

Back in March 2016 we reported that Age Friendly Coventry had made a successful bid for funding from Tesco for the installation of benches in the City Centre. (You can read about it here). £8,000 had been awarded, which was a share of revenue generated from the new five pence charge on single-use carrier bags.

Then in August 2016 COV members took part in a “Walkability Audit”, the purpose of which was to assess how easy it was to travel on foot in and around the City Centre. (See the articles here and here). They made a set of recommendations, several of which were related to the provision of public seating. Older people often find it necessary to take a breather when out and about, so comfortable, well-positioned benches are very welcome.

All went quiet for some time, then in June 2017, we were invited to take part in a “design workshop” for a bench (only one) to be positioned in Spon Street, near the entrance to the subway. Lunch and refreshments were to be provided for the five young people and five older people taking part in the workshop.

We declined the invitation for the following reasons:

We made our objections known but received no satisfactory responses.

Now the (single!) bench has been designed, built and installed. What do we think of it?

In our opinion, it’s alright. And so it should be, for £8,000. But for the same amount of money, it should have been possible to provide a number of benches – somewhere where they are likely to be used. And that’s not in an unattractive dead-end, next to a little-used subway, surrounded by traffic fumes and noise.

Why not let us know what you think using our Forum Page?

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Joint Meeting on Health and Social Care

6 July 2018
A meeting was held on 30th May, involving Coventry Older Voices, Coventry City Council, Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Healthwatch Coventry and Grapevine. About 60 people attended, the majority being COV members.

The meeting had 3 aims:

The event was jointly chaired by COV committee member David Spurgeon and Coventry City Council Director of Adult Services Peter Fahy.

The CQC Review

Ruth Light (Chief Officer of Healthwatch Coventry) introduced the topic, and told us about the involvement of Healthwatch in the review.

Ian Bowering (Head of Social Work, Prevention and Health at Coventry City Council) then described the review in more detail, which was concerned with how safe, effective, caring and responsive Coventry’s health and social services were. He said that the outcome could be summed up as “good, but could do better”.

The CQC had praised workers in the field as being highly committed, and said that the management delivered good relationships. However, there was a need for a consistent system-wide vision.

Ian said that as a result of the review, an action plan had been drawn up, to ensure that “our efforts are joined-up”.

If you would like to read the review, it is available here.

Involvement of Older People

This was an interactive meeting, in the style often adopted for COV events. Those who were present divided into groups to discuss the following topics, and then reported back to the meeting as a whole:

  1. What would good health and social care look like for older people?
  2. How would we know if things are improving from the viewpoints of older people using services and of carers?
  3. How do older people (from all different backgrounds) already get involved or engaged? How could they be involved in the future?
  4. What could the COV network contribute to make the improvements happen?

You can read some of the comments that were made about these topics here.


The meeting was rounded up by a presentation by members of Grapevine, sisters Mel Smith and Mel Smith. (No – that’s not a mistake – they are Melanie and Melissa).

Grapevine helps all kinds of people experiencing isolation, poverty and disadvantage to build better lives, by offering practical guidance, advocacy and support centred around the person.

They spoke of “People Power”, and the need to focus on what you can do – not what you can’t.

Grapevine have an excellent website, which you can see here.

Following the meeting Pete Fahy said "It was great to engage with members of COV on some of the important issues facing health and social care as highlighted through the CQC review. I hope we can build on the relationship going forward to make a positive difference for the people we support".

At the end of the event those who had attended were asked to leave a short written comment about its usefulness, and you can read what they wrote here. Looking at these comments, we think that we can claim that the meeting was a great success, and we look forward enthusiastically to the next. Watch this space for more news!
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