JIM CANNON looks back at a year we will never forget - but looks ahead to 2021 with hope

THAT was the year that was… goodbye 2020!

For many older people, the TV programme That Was The Week That Was or TW3 was a highlight of Saturday night when a review of the past week allowed critical and satirical comment on the political events of the week.

2020 is a year that none of us will forget for a whole range of reasons whether because of the lockdowns which kept us from seeing families and friends, for those who lost loved ones, for those who lost their jobs and businesses, as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

We can also remember the support for the NHS and key workers with Thursday night clapping, the 4000 volunteers in York of whom 800 became active in helping others in need, the increase in local community spirit. We became more aware of the key workers who keep the systems going.

Many will also remember 2020 as the year when the formal departure of the UK from the European Union was completed and led to the agreement of a new trade deal - albeit in a last-minute rush and with lots of reservations from many.

At the end of December, coronavirus seemed to be spreading apace with the number of people in hospital and daily deaths increasing. The number of excess deaths in the UK stands at over 80,0000. The Government has decided that three quarters of the population is under Tier 4 – Stay at home. Most secondary school children will return two weeks later than originally planned after the Christmas holidays.

Here in York, we are now in Tier 3 and restaurants, pubs and hospitality areas are now closed. The advice is to be especially careful in these days when the spread of the disease is increasing.

But we can look forward to a positive 2021 with the likely approval of three vaccines to control the spread. The latest approval is for the Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine which has the added benefit of needing the normal level of control for vaccines rather than being kept in ultra-cold temperatures. It is also cheaper than the earlier vaccines and the rollout starts on Monday. It is being made available on a non-profit basis at cost price and has been described as a game changer.

These incredibly positive developments have been achieved through greater co-operation between scientists in different countries across the world. The speed of development has been amazing and offers hope for improvements in delivering future vaccines for other diseases.

If the projections for the vaccination programme work out, we can look forward to a “normal” future sometime in the spring.

In the meantime, life continues and while we at the York Older People’s Assembly (YOPA) are unable to hold open meetings, we are planning a schedule of Zoom meetings for 2021.

Our first YOPA session will take place on Monday, January 18 from 2pm to 3pm when our main guest speaker will be Steve Reed who is responsible for customer services for York Hospital.

We will be focussing on the vaccination programme and the customer services which carry on even though coronavirus dominates so much.

If you would like to be invited to the Zoom session, please let us know and we will send you the details.

If you have any special questions that you would like us to consider, please let us know and we will aim to help everybody be prepared for an informative and interactive event.

Contact: Jim Cannon. Email: yorkolderpeoplesassembly@outlook.com

SOME 3.5 million over 75-year olds now have to pay for their TV licence.

The only exceptions are those on pension credits.

It is estimated that over one million people are entitled to pension credits but do not claim it.

If you are uncertain, or need help to claim pension credit, then please contact Age UK York, Older Citizens Advocacy York, or CAB York. If in doubt, email us at yorkolderpeoplesassembly@outlook.com and we will try to help.

York Older People’s Assembly has now moved offices and we are based at SPARK:YORK, 17 -21 Piccadilly, York YO1 9PB Tel : 01904 412832

Jim Cannon is Chair of the York Older People’s Assembly.

You can contact him at yorkolderpeoplesassembly@outlook.com