Charity calls on retailers to introduce pensioner discount days

Age Sector Platform members Thelma Dillon, Anne Watson (centre) and Robert Grimason help launch the ground-breaking 'Silver Saver' campaign.
Age Sector Platform members Thelma Dillon, Anne Watson (centre) and Robert Grimason help launch the ground-breaking 'Silver Saver' campaign.

A NEWTOWNABBEY pensioner has helped a prominent older people’s charity launch a ground-breaking campaign calling on food retailers to introduce a pensioner discount day to help older shoppers cope with the rising cost of living.

The ‘Silver Saver’ 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.

Newtownabbey woman Anne Watson, from Age Sector Platform commented: “Having left the starting blocks over the summer, this campaign has already gained the support of over 1,000 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.”

Ms Watson, who is a member of Newtownabbey Senior Citizens’ Forum, continued: “We conducted 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 (54 per cent) older people in County Antrim 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.”

The former solicitor added: “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 per cent) 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.”

Age Sector Platform is asking for the support of the public to help put pressure on retailers to introduce pensioner discount days. A petition supporting the campaign can be signed online at www.silversaver.org.uk. Alternatively, a petition postcard can be requested by telephoning 028 9031 2089.