Pensions group in Wigan prepares for a colourful 2018

Supporters of the pensions group WASPI
Supporters of the pensions group WASPI

Campaigners for state pension equality are already planning a packed programme for 2018 as they try to ratchet up the pressure on ministers.

Wigan and Makerfield Waspi, the local branch of the national Women Against State Pension Inequality protest movement, enjoyed huge success in 2017 as it grew to more than 100 members.

The group attracted prominent political support and was a regular sight educating people about the issue in the town centre at major events.

There is no sign that this year will see any slowdown in the campaign for fair transitional arrangements for women affected by sudden changes to the age they will receive their state pension.

Campaigners from the borough will join Waspi ladies from around the region in Manchester on January 19 to see the town hall lit up purple in support of the campaign.

Wigan Council is planning a similar event in March to raise awareness with the Face of Wigan statue being turned the Waspi colour during International Women’s Week.

Later this month the borough’s campaigners will also attend an event at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester celebrating inspirational women, where they will appear and speak alongside the likes of Margaret Aspinall from the Hillsborough families’ group.

Ann Edwards, from Wigan and Makerfield Waspi, said: "The progress is very good. We started this as a group last March with about nine ladies around the co-ordinator’s kitchen table and from that we’ve now got 100.

"We’ve been at every major event in Wigan and every time there is publicity more and more women are coming to us as new members.

"We will keep going until the day we got our pensions and compensation for us all."

Ann says pension transitions is a massive issue, with around 8,000 women in Wigan and Makerfield thought to be affected.

The campaign has also attracted widespread political support from Wigan and Makerfield MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue and councillors include the borough’s Waspi champion Coun Pat Draper, while the national Waspi movement enjoys cross-party support in Parliament.

Wigan and Makerfield campaigners also got acting superstar Sir Ian McKellen to sign the Waspi pledge during last year’s Wigan Pride.

So far the Government has refused to budge but Ann hopes the mounting pressure will eventually force a re-think.

She said: "There are still lots of people who don’t know about this.

"Only a fortnight ago someone online was talking about getting their bus pass and we all had to explain she wouldn’t get it until she was 66."

Wigan and Makerfield Waspi meets on the last Tuesday of each month at Wigan Youth Zone from 6pm until 8pm and runs a One Stop Shop for advice in the foyer of Wigan Life Centre every other Friday from 11am until

1pm.

To find out more search for Wigan Waspi Group on Facebook