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Update from BOPF Chair

BOPF SEPTEMBER VIRTUAL OPEN FORUM AND AGM

BOPF had its first ever virtual Open Forum on 24th September, and this was also our AGM. Because of the pandemic, we sadly had to cancel our April and June Open Forum meetings, and it clearly wasn’t safe or appropriate to go ahead with a ‘physical’ meeting at Broadmead Baptist Church this time. Nevertheless, we were determined that there should be a September meeting, even if it meant it had to be a virtual one.

We fully recognise, of course, that many of our members are not online and do not have access to Zoom, and this is why we have been pulling out all the stops to send out a series of hard copy Newsletters over the last 6 months, in conjunction with our many partners, in particular Bristol City Council and Age UK Bristol. We are also inviting those who weren’t able to attend to let us have any comments or views about the Open Forum and AGM meeting.

The Open Forum meeting went very well, with a good turnout, and was in the form of a ‘webinar’, which is a bit different to a regular Zoom meeting, and something we all had to get used to! Fortunately, it all went smoothly, and I would like to thank Yolanda for the huge amount of work she put in over recent weeks to make this possible.

Our speakers were excellent. Karin Smyth, the Bristol South MP, spoke about her work on behalf of her local community, and some of the key issues she has been focusing on over recent months. This has not surprisingly included the huge impact of the pandemic on groups and individuals, especially those who may be more vulnerable, and also on social care, road safety, including e-scooters, and the very sensitive subject of assisted dying. Here is the document that she subsequently sent us: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/768/768.pdf

Our other main speaker was David Saunders, who as an Extinction Rebellion Elder, spoke at our Open Forum last year. This time he talked in particular about solar power, how this can be channelled to help mitigate the effects of climate change, the reducing cost of solar panels, and the project he is involved in in Lockleaze. Our own Ian Quaife also provided a brief update on BOPF projects, including the Transport Action Group, the Housing survey, and the Life in Lockdown Survey and research.

In terms of the AGM part of the meeting, I was delighted to be reelected as Chair for the coming year, was really pleased that Trish Mensah is now Deputy Chair, and Judith Brown and Christina Stokes continue as BOPF Ambassador and Treasurer, respectively. All the other current Trustees were also reelected, which is excellent news, and we now have a new Trustee, Tara Mistry, who I am sure is going to make a great contribution. With Yolanda and Ian Q, its a really strong team. Finally, the Accounts for 2019/20 were also approved.

The strength of BOPF is its membership of 3000 older people in the city, and any ideas, comments and contributions you may have, are always welcome and valued. We’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes.

Ian Bickerton
Chair, BOPF