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Hackney Pensioners Convention sends out SOS for new members

PUBLISHED: 12:07 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:07 28 February 2020

Hackney Pensioners Convention usually meets the first Monday of every month at 1:30 at Our Lady & St joseph’s Church Hall, Balls Pond Road. Pictured (from left to right: Treasurer Jonathan, Secretary Nigel Gansell, Julia, Patrick Murphy and Megan Ifill.  Picture: Holly Chant

Hackney Pensioners Convention usually meets the first Monday of every month at 1:30 at Our Lady & St joseph’s Church Hall, Balls Pond Road. Pictured (from left to right: Treasurer Jonathan, Secretary Nigel Gansell, Julia, Patrick Murphy and Megan Ifill. Picture: Holly Chant

Holly Chant

A Hackney organisation which has spent the last 40 years battling for pensioners rights could close soon if it doesn’t find new members.

The cost of annual membership is �2 and the convention is affiliated to the Greater London Penioners Association (GLPA). Picture: Holly ChantThe cost of annual membership is �2 and the convention is affiliated to the Greater London Penioners Association (GLPA). Picture: Holly Chant

The Hackney Pensioners Convention has a long history of campaigning for the welfare and interests of older people. The group meets to discuss issues which affect members, go to rallies and send letters to help make Hackney a better place for pensioners.

But membership numbers have dwindled in the last three years down to a small but dedicated group.

"It's a bit of an SOS. We're down to a magnificent eight or nine of us. I think we punch above our weight here, were committed and very enthusiastic - let's soldier on," said former journalist and secretary of the group Nigel Gansell.

Nigel is 80 now and plans to step down but he said he will continue his work in the convention until he finds someone to replace him or it ceases to run.

The Hackney Pensioners Convention has been campagining for pensioners rights for about 40 yeras. Picture: Holly ChantThe Hackney Pensioners Convention has been campagining for pensioners rights for about 40 yeras. Picture: Holly Chant

"He pours his heart and soul into this but he's doing an awful hell of a lot," said treasurer Jonathan Malins-Smith who will be leaving the group.

Members say there are a few reasons why people aren't joining.

A lack of funding means the organisation is limited in scope and cannot provide days out or fun activities to attract members.

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They have found it difficult to get the word out about monthly meetings when even their own members have trouble accessing web sites and aren't very engaged with the internet.

Jonathan told the Gazette: "We're an older people's organisation and one of the problems we have is this digital divide which is growing bigger all the time."

Still, the group feels it makes a difference and doesn't want to give up. One member, Patrick Murphy, 80, said: "Nigel's letters helped me. I raised a question about trying to use the toilet at the station and Nigel wrote about it and now they've extended opening times and I can get through without getting tracked."

Another member, Megan Ifill, said: "This group is really doing a lot - genuinely - but some people like to see fire."

The next meeting will be the annual general meeting on March 2 at 1.30pm in Hackney Town Hall. New members are welcome.

Hackney Pensioners Convention usually meets the first Monday of every month at 1:30 at Our Lady & St joseph's Church Hall, Balls Pond Road.

The cost of annual membership is £2 and the convention is affiliated to the Greater London Pensioners Association (GLPA).

For more info on the meeting click here

Or tweet them @HPConvention

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