Readers’ letters - May 18

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Women struggling after changes to pension age

I am a member of WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality. We are women born in the 1950s hugely affected by the rise in retirement age. We grew up in an era of enormous post-war social and economic change. We worked, raised children, struggled to establish rights that women enjoy today and made irreversible life decisions based on a projected retirement age of 60.

In 1995, the Conservative government raised the retirement age for women to 65 in line with men and, in 2011, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government raised the age, for both men and women, to 66, effective by 2020. WASPI agrees with the equalisation of retirement age but not with the methods. Too great a change in too short a time, often without proper notice or information, has prevented many women from making alternative arrangements. This point has been highlighted by the recent Cridland Report which recommends that any future one year rise in retirement age should have 10 years’ notice.

We want the next government to make proper transitional arrangements to fully compensate the three to five million women affected. Many rely solely on state pension and are suffering sever financial hardship, and only 13 per cent of women have an additional income via an occupational pension compared with 80 per cent of men.

Many are struggling to find work for another six years and are coping with increasing demands to care for both grandchildren and ageing parents.

We are a national campaign with cross party support and are asking voters in the election to ascertain if their candidates support WASPI and then vote accordingly. This could affect you, your partner, mother, daughter, sister or friend.

Lynne Metcalfe

via email

Could you be a puppy walker?

Guide Dogs are looking for enthusiastic and dedicated local volunteers who can care for our puppies.

Puppy walking is challenging and it’s a real commitment to take a puppy into your home for a year, but with the support of Guide Dogs staff, our volunteers find it extremely rewarding and worthwhile.

The young dog will spend much of their first year of life living with the puppy walker volunteer in their home.

They will teach them basic obedience and get them used to a home environment, noise and the bustle of towns.

They will prepare the pup for their working life ahead which includes taking them on public transport including trains and buses.

A young guide dog puppy is a full time companion for the volunteer, who find it so rewarding to raise a dog who will one day give independence to a person who is blind or partially sighted.

Guide Dogs supplies basic equipment and covers all veterinary and feeding expenses.

To become a puppy walker, volunteers will need to have access to a car. They will have to be home for most of the day, and free to take their puppy into many varied environments – sometimes busy and difficult. Their yard or garden will also need to be securely fenced so that the puppy remains safely within its confines.

If you would like to request more information about volunteering for the charity as a puppy walker or any of our other opportunities, please visit our website http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/supportus/volunteering#.WRrX13n2bcs email janet.harper@guidedogs.org.uk or call 07780 958873.

Janet Harper

Volunteering Consultant (Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Isle of Man)

Manchester Mobility Team

Guide Dogs

I’m glad I was in school in the 60s

With all the complaining from teachers, parents and pupils about the stress of SATs exams, it makes me grateful I was educated in the 50s and 60s before stress was invented.

I dread to think the damage that would have been inflicted on myself and fellow pupils with the weekly test we sat every Friday afternoon, year in and year out.

Judy Goodwin via email