Age Concern suffers worst year for two decades
The island’s seniors advocacy group remains resolute despite suffering its worst financial year for two decades.
Age Concern revealed “a challenging year” for fundraising, with a deficit of $107,804 for the year ending March 31, 2019.
The financials were unaudited, but Tracey Pitt, the treasurer, said its numbers were “pretty much in the ballpark”.
Ms Pitt said yesterday that the last fiscal year’s revenues added up to $655,903 while expenses stood at $763,707.
Claudette Fleming, the executive director, told the group’s annual meeting: “In my 19 years at Age Concern, we’ve had $100,000 deficits before.
“This has probably been the hardest year for our organisation. Cashflows remain positive and we have met all our bills, but we have experienced this very significant loss.”
Dr Fleming added: “The philanthropic and economic landscape continues to shift.
“Companies and individuals are uncertain about their economic futures. As a result, they are hesitant to come to assist.”
With the island’s senior population on the rise, Dr Fleming said the group had 4,848 members at last count — making it “the largest membership organisation on the island”.
Charles Jeffers, the deputy chairman of Age Concern, said membership fees would increase in 2020 from $25 to $35 a year for persons aged 50 to 64, and from $25 to $28 for those aged 65 to 79, with seniors over the age of 80 retaining complimentary membership.
New members will also be subjected to a $15 sign-up fee.
Mr Jeffers told the gathering at the Evangelical Church Hall in Paget: “Think very clearly, give what you can, and make sure that this organisation stays afloat.”
Linda Smith, the chairwoman, said the group’s board had also agreed on restructuring, switching from a maximum of 14 and a minimum of 11 members to a range of 11 and seven.
Mr Jeffers was presented with an award for longstanding service, along with Ottiwell Simmons, the former MP and president of the Bermuda Industrial Union.
Jason Hayward, the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, delivered the keynote speech, describing his work with the sub-committee tasked by the Labour Advisory Council with raising the compulsory retirement age in the Civil Service.
Legislation approved this year raised the compulsory retirement age from 65 to 68 for certain public offices.
The group’s report also called for raising the mandatory retirement age to 70 over the next ten years.
Mr Hayward predicted that businesses would follow suit.
“This is an important milestone that sets the tenor for what is to come in the private sector.”
The senator said that the island’s human rights legislation needed to be bolstered to protect seniors from age discrimination in the workplace.
Mr Hayward added: “There are now more employees in the workforce who are 65 and older than ever before.”
Seniors who wished to continue working should be “afforded every opportunity to do so”, he said.
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