Older People's Forum to host debate

The Vale 50+ Strategy Forum is to host a hard-hitting debate on the role of older people in society.

On 17 November 2015 the forum will host their first ever 'Question Time'session. The event will see a panel of experts debate the provocative question Are Older People an Asset or a Burden on today’s society? at the Memo Arts Centre in Barry.


Chairing the debate

Rachel Connor

Rachel was the Director of the Vale Volunteer Bureau (VVB) for ten years before being appointed as the Executive Director of Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS) in 2002. For the past 18 months Rachel has been involved in developing and implementing the merger of VVB and VCVS to form GVS (Glamorgan Voluntary Services) of which she has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. Rachel has extensive experience of partnership and joint working and represents the Third Sector on the Vale Local Service Board and the Cardiff and Vale Joint Local Service Board as well as being the Chair of the Creative Rural Communities’ Local Advisory Group.  Rachel has a proven track record in successfully applying for grant funding and managing initiatives that benefit our communities.

The panellists

James Foreman-Peck

Professor and Head of Economics at Cardiff University.

James is also Director of the Welsh Institute for Research in Economics and Development and a former President of the European Historical Economics Society. James Foreman-Peck was awarded his PhD at the London School of Economics, since when he has been Economic Adviser at H M Treasury, Professor of Economic History at the University of Hull, Visiting Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis, and Lecturer in Economic History at the University of Oxford. His books include A History of the World Economy: International Economic Relations since 1850, Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820-1990 (with R Millward) and European Industrial Policy: The Twentieth Century Experience (edited with G Federico). Among his current research interests are human capital acquisition and impact, entrepreneurship, and long run economic development.


James will be presenting the viewpoint that the younger generations suffer from financial inequity.


Iwan Williams

Communities, Local Government and Wellbeing Lead, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales

Iwan joined the Commissioner’s office in December 2013, and leads on work involving community services and facilities, scams prevention, financial inclusion/entitlements uptake for older people, and employment opportunities for older people. Iwan worked on the Commissioner’s report on ‘The Importance and Impact of Community Services in Wales’ and the ‘Effective Engagement with Local Authorities: Toolkit for Older People’ (2014), and is currently working on new Guidance to improve impact assessments and scrutiny around changes to community services. Iwan also works on legislative developments for the Commissioner, and is currently focusing on the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the Local Government (Wales) Bill and the Public Health (Wales)

Bill. Iwan is also involved in the Ageing Well in Wales Programme, and leads on work through the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.


Prior to joining the Commissioner’s office, Iwan worked for the Welsh Local Government Association European Office in Brussels, the South West UK Brussels Office as well as CRG Research in Cardiff. Iwan studied European Union Studies at Cardiff University, and in his spare time enjoys travelling, football, running and the cinema.


Iwan will outline the monetary and other value that older people contribute to society.


Maria Battle

Chair of Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board

Maria was formerly Senior Director of Consumer Focus Wales, a consumer watchdog, championing consumer rights in the energy market, fuel poverty, park homes and food safety. Prior to this Maria was Deputy Children`s Commissioner for Wales advocating for children rights in education, child protection, asylum and health in Wales, UK and Europe. Maria is a Solicitor specialising in public law and human rights. She has worked for local authorities in Wales as well as private practice and had her own legal practice. Maria ensured children had a voice working for the Children Society and NCH Action for children.


She was an independent children’s advocate in Children's homes and chaired Inquiries and the Standards Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council. Maria was Director of Age concern Ceredigion championing the rights of older people, she lectured in law at the Universities of Glamorgan and Birmingham. Maria is a school governor, a lay member of the Council of the University of Cardiff and a Non-Executive Director of the Millennium Stadium. She has 3 children and is a mad Evertonian!


Maria will be highlighting the contributions made by older people to health social care and wellbeing initiatives, as volunteers in treatment centers and the community.


Alan Hatton Yeo

Alan worked for 16 years as CEO of the Beth Johnson Foundation and retired in January 2014 to focus on his interest in Intergenerational work and Age-Friendly Communities. He has an international reputation for his work in the fields of Intergenerational Practice and Ageing and has written extensively. His current roles include:


o    Strategic Development Manager for Volunteering Matters Wales

o    Member National Partnership Forum for Older People for Wales

o    Chair and expert lead of the Age-Friendly Communities network Wales.

o    Honorary Research Fellow University of Keele

o    Associate Editor Journal for Intergenerational Relationships

o    Chair Generations Working Together Scotland

o    Chair International Consortium for Intergenerational Programmes.


In 2012 he was awarded Doctor of University by the University of Keele in recognition of his contribution and leadership in the field of ageing and an MBE for his contribution to the development of intergenerational practice.


Alan will be asking what is the social legacy that older people are leaving for the future, and isn’t it time they took some responsibility for the world they have helped to create?

Doors open at 6.30pm for 7.00pm start and the event will finish at 9.30pm. Free tea and coffee will be served during intermission.