Updates from the Champion for older residents

Councillor Brian Marcel is Richmond Council's ambassador for residents who are past retirement age.

Read the latest news and updates from Cllr Marcel.

Keeping warm this winter

December 2016

As I write this, the weather is getting a lot colder and we are promised several cold snaps this winter. During this cold period, it is very important for our more vulnerable residents to look after themselves and take a few precautions:

  • Make sure your heating system is in good working order and check that you have a smoke alarm fitted.
  • Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than 1 thick layer; this will trap the heat better to keep you warm.
  • If you have steps leading up to your house, it might be worth keeping some salt and sand at home to spread on them when it gets icy.
  • Make sure you have taken advantage of a free flu jab when offered by your GP.
  • Keep moving if you can, this will help keep you warm.
  • Have plenty of hot drinks like tea, coffee or hot water as this will help to keep you warm. Just boil the amount of water you need each time and this will save you money too!
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers by your phone such as utility companies.

Winter Fuel Payment or Winter Fuel Allowance is an annual payment to help with heating costs, made to households with someone over Pension Credit age. To check if you are eligible for this payment, call the Winter Fuel payment helpline on 0345 915 1515.

Also, as part of the Local Assistance Scheme, Fuel Grants are now being offered to assist eligible residents with fuel bills over the winter period. The scheme is open to all residents on low incomes, including pensioners, those on benefits and those with low earnings. You must apply by 5pm on Friday 24 February 2017.

Find out more about fuel grants and apply online, or call 020 8891 1411.

And finally, I would like to wish Richmond residents a very Happy Christmas!

Full of Life Fair 2016

October 2016

Full of Life Fair, the largest event for senior residents in the borough took place last month. As the Champion for older residents, I am always looking forward to this annual event as it always provides a lot of useful information to residents as well as being a fun day out. This year’s fair was particularly well attended as I haven’t seen so many people before milling around 75 exhibition stands. The stalls at this year’s fair came from a variety of sectors including health, technology, care services, community groups and many more. One stallholder, Miles Waghorn from TechSilver was very impressed with his time at the fair.

“As a brand that's dedicated to helping those in later life make the most of technology, we were thrilled when Richmond Council got in touch. It was great to meet so many seniors very keen to know more about digital and eager to get online. Of course, it was not all serious at the fair. There was tea and cake, quizzes and sing-alongs, dancing to digital demos, other councils across the country need to take note on how they should be better accommodating their senior citizens!”

It was great to hear that the fair benefitted residents. So many of attendees approached me on the day to say thank you and I had many emails in the same vein. At the fair I had a great time speaking to residents, and everyone who I spoke with said they had found out so much of what was available locally they didn’t known about. I was particularly happy to hear that one lady had signed up for rambling, U3A, dancing and the gym!

Apart from number of local organisations showcasing their work, Wayne Sleep, the celebrity dancer, visited the fair and some of Age UK’s keep fit males showing us their moves. Roll on next year’s event and congrats to everyone who made so many people so happy.

Summer IT Taster Sessions at Richmond Library

September 2016

Over the course of the summer, Richmond Library held IT Taster sessions for residents looking for help with their iPad, tablet or laptop. Residents could come to any of the many drop in sessions and get expert advice for free. Some of those who were at the sessions attended one class and others attended a number of classes depending on their needs. The sessions took place a few days a week and were a great help for those who attended.

It was so good to see so many older residents taking part in drop in sessions which form part of the Councils Digital Strategy as well as my desire to introduce digital devices (like iPads or tablets) to as many residents as possible. At this session in fact there were laptop computers with Windows as well as iPads and the volunteer staff were hugely attentive and knowledgeable. I am always looking forward to attending more of these types of sessions.

The next opportunity to learn more and get some help with your digital devices is the Full of Life fair which is taking place on Friday 7 October at Twickenham Rugby stadium. There will be plenty of digital demonstrations and digital drop in sessions run by partner organisations, such as AGE UK Richmond upon Thames, Barclays bank and TechSilver.

If you are interested in attending, register now and bring your tablet or smartphone with you on the day.

Register for Full of Life Fair

My first video blog

March 2016

Watch Councillor Marcel’s video blog (vlog) from Be Online Month event Gadget Clinic, organised by Age UK Richmond at Richmond Adult Community College.

Follow Councillor Marcel on Twitter at @BrianMarcel.

It’s better to #BeOnline

February 2016

I’m delighted to tell you about Be Online Month, four weeks of free activities giving residents the opportunity to learn to use the internet with confidence.

From beginners’ sessions to learning to shop online, watch TV or listen to digital radio, there’s something for everyone, no matter your ability.

My top pick is the very first event ‘Staying safe online’ on Monday 15 February, as people often tell me they are concerned about sharing personal information online. At this session you will learn the essential do’s and don’ts so that you can book and buy the things you want.

I highly recommend the Leader’s Tea Dance on Wednesday 2 March. Not only can you dance the afternoon away to a great live band, but you can also ask our friendly team your questions about using the internet. You can even bring along your own iPad for top tips on using your device.

Richmond Council is partnering with Richmond Council, Age UK Richmond, Richmond Adult Community College and Richmond Housing Partnership to deliver Be Online Month. It’s a good idea to register as soon as possible because places are limited.

Visit the Be Online Month page to view the full calendar of events and register your interest.


I am on Twitter! If you haven’t joined it’s well worth having a go. It’s a great source for local news and a good way to communicate with people in your community.

Here’s a tip - use a hashtag to connect with people who share similar interests. For example, tweet me @BrianMarcel if you are attending a Be Online Month event and include the hashtag #BeOnline – and I’ll tweet right back!

My Key ICT Issues for 2016

January 2016

I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and a great New Year with family and friends. With the festive season now drawing to an end, life is slowly getting back to normal. During the festive period I have been reflecting on the past year and made a start to planning ahead for 2016. Below are some of the priorities that I will pursue this year:

Promoting training to support people to use new technology

Some of you will have had a tablet PC such as an iPad, as a gift for Christmas. If you aren’t sure how to use it and to get the most from it please don’t take it back for a refund or put it in a drawer. Instead I suggest you hurry along to a local training class to get started. There is sure to be a class nearby offered by a local organisation such as; Age UK, Richmond Adult & Community College, RHP, local libraries and Barclays bank, just to name few.

For a full list of classes, please check the ICT guide(pdf, 1156KB), which also provides some useful tips about how to get the most from your digital devices.

Helping you get the best from your healthcare and care providers

I am aware that many older residents, who experienced a problem with their health or care services, are reluctant to complain. However, there is no need to keep silent, so as not to create a ‘fuss’. You can use your digital device to email your complaint about any adverse treatment.

There will also be some new developments to help people make informed decisions when choosing care services. We will be launching Careplace in February which, along with NHS Choices, will give a Trip Advisor approach, so residents can read reviews of care homes and other care providers before choosing one.

Getting better Internet access in the Borough

We have recently rolled out 30 mins of free Wi-Fi access in the high streets of Richmond, Twickenham and Teddington (check our network coverage map(pdf, 761KB) for more details). In the upcoming months I shall be discussing with our suppliers how to roll out free or lower cost Wi-Fi with fast broadband into Community Centres and residential areas where the most older residents live.

Helping you to stay safe

During 2016 I will look into encouraging the Council to produce a guide for recognising pension pot scammers, to make sure that your retirement is not troubled by fraudsters. I will also try to get you the best deals on such services like nuisance and scam calls blocking in collaboration with the Richmond Card business offers scheme.

Have Yourself a Merry Digital Christmas

December 2015

Christmas is just around the corner and I am sure you are all busy buying presents, Christmas cards and making sure you have gift lists from family and friends. It can be a stressful time but the internet and digital devices can be very handy in helping you keep it under control.

Stay in touch with friends and family

During Christmas many of us spend time with our loved ones and it would be great if you could get everyone around the table during the festive season. However, this is not always possible due to work commitments, severe weather conditions or to friends and family living far away and having other commitments.

Thankfully through channels such as Skype, Facetime, Facebook, and emails you can still keep in touch with your loved ones whether home or away.

Christmas shopping

Getting out and about on your local high street can be a hectic experience during Christmas, but it will be busier than usual and carrying bags might be a bit of a chore, online shopping can be your saviour. Most of the high street retailers have an online store, so it should be easy to find your favourite shops without having to leave your home and have items delivered straight to your door!

You can also shop with online only stores, such as Etsy, Amazon or Notonthehighstreet to search for some unique presents. There are also some great deals online that are not available on the high street.

Entertainment and Education

Is the radio or TV not playing enough of your favourite Christmas songs? Not a problem. You can visit websites such as Youtube and create a playlist of your favourite songs to help you get into a festive mood.

Most of the TV channels also have free ‘on demand’ players and you can watch films or TV programmes whenever you want. There is also a selection of films and TV programmes on websites, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, which charge a fee for access.

Another benefit of having digital access during Christmas is to stay informed with the latest news and access other useful information. Whether learning how to prepare perfect Christmas dinner via Youtube, staying informed about the weather on your smart phone app, or finding out when your next waste and recycling collection is due, having access to the Internet is very useful during the festive period.

You can find out more about getting online and accessing technology in our ICT guide(pdf, 1156KB).

From myself and everyone at Richmond Council we would like to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Dignity in Care Awards celebrate the best in local care

November 2015

Cllr Brian Marcel speaks at the Dignity in Care Awards 2015

I was delighted to have attended and acted as one of the judges for Carer of the Year for the Care Homes category at the Dignity in Care Awards. The event, which took place on 5 November, was organised in partnership with Age UK Richmond, Richmond AID, Ruils, Local Mencap and INS.

The annual awards strive to highlight and recognise good practice and those who deliver dignified care locally. As a Council we recognise the need to support and encourage mutual respect between people who provide care, and those who receive care.

Over 100 carers were nominated for an award and attended the awards ceremony at York House, where the winners of the four main categories were announced. The winners included:

  • Kana Thirumalthasan, manager at Nightingale House - Carer of the Year in the Care Homes category.
  • Joseph Field - Carer of the Year in the Learning Disabilities category.
  • Pauline Gellibrand - Carer of the Year in the Home Support and Day Care category.
  • Ashley Ironmonger - The Ken Yew Personal Assistant of the Year Award.

Get connected to the free Wi-Fi around the borough

October 2015

Watch my interview above as I continue to promote my #SilverSurfers campaign. This involves encouraging older residents to learn digital skills, and the newly installed free Wi-Fi is instrumental to this plan.

In order to connect to the Wi-Fi make sure you follow these steps:

  1. Click on Settings on your Laptop/phone/ tablet
  2. Switch on your Wi-Fi and search for networks
  3. Select the ‘FreeRichmondWiFi’ network
  4. Enter your name and email address
  5. You should now be online

For more information visit the Richmond Wi-Fi page.

If you would like to find out more about my work you can follow and tweet to me on Twitter @brianmarcel.

Richmond Council launches ICT guide during Full of Life Week

October 2015

Cllr Brian Marcel speaks to senior residents at the Full Of Life 2015 event

Last week was very busy with the Full of Life celebration taking place in the borough. There were 8 events organised by the Council and the partners over the week, ranging from Afternoon Tea, iPad lessons and a Fair, all to celebrate the contribution older residents make to the borough.

This year we concentrated on the topic of #SilverSurfers, which aims to encourage older residents surfing the Internet, raising awareness about the benefits of going online as well as practical assistance.

One of the key highlights of the week for me was Love Later Life Fair, organised fantastically by the Age UK Richmond team. I attended as the Champion for older residents to open the fair and to launch the Council’s brand new ICT Guide, designed specifically for older residents. The guide offers great advice from what services are available online, where to buy gadgets and what computer training is available near you.

The ICT Guide and new free Wi-Fi plan for the borough, which enables residents to get free internet in parts of Twickenham, Richmond and Teddington, are great step towards the vision of creating a smart city that all residents can benefit from.

See pictures from Full of Life Week on the council’s Facebook page.

For further updates on older residents’ issues please read my monthly blog on this page and follow me on Twitter @Brianmarcel or @LBRUT.

A visit to The Avenue Social Club

April 2015

Cllr Brian Marcel with David Polya from The Avenue Social Club in Kew.

It was a great pleasure visiting this converted church at St Luke’s in The Avenue, Kew. The Avenue Social Club is a community of 330 members, managed by Kew Community Trust, providing a lifeline for older people who want to get the most out of life. It is so impressive to see how they have kept part of the Church as a place of worship while blocking off the rest for leisure and meals and installing an extra floor to provide line dancing and laughter, yoga classes and even meditation, tai-chi and bridge! I would love to have seen more men taking part and have been assured that there will soon be more activities provided to appeal to the older male.

If you would like to get in touch with Cllr Marcel or arrange a visit to your organisation please email Cllr.BMarcel@richmond.gov.uk.

Satisfaction up amongst older residents

January 2015

In the latest Residents Survey for Richmond Council it was pleasurable to see that people who are satisfied with services and support for the Older Residents climbed 8% from 61%-69% in 2014 compared with 2013.

View the full results

I am delighted with these results, and committed to making sure the Council continues to improve on its strategy to keep people in their homes longer, and to reduce loneliness and isolation by connecting them with tablets to the outside world.

Full of Life Fair

October 2014

The Mayor Cllr Jane Boulton, Cllr David Marlow and Cllr Marcel with celebrity guest, Lionel Blair, and Richmond residents at the Full of Life Fair 2014

On 1 October 2014 I attended the Council’s annual Full of Life celebration for older residents in the borough and had the chance to meet and talk with many residents.  This is just one event where the Council, focuses on promoting services to older residents in the Borough and in particular reaching out to those who are, or at least feel that they are, isolated from the rest of their community. The event attracted over 1,500 residents and carers all keen to get involved in trying out a number of activities including Zumba, Tai Chi, light entertainment as well as learning more about  services available throughout the borough.

This was my first Full of Life Fair as Champion for Older Residents and it was a fantastic event. I was able to meet many local organisations and interact with residents from across the borough, which was a great opportunity to really listen to older people’s concerns and experiences. It also provided me with an opportunity to share my vision to help more older residents get online. During the lunch hour I interacted with many residents who were very positive about the services provided by the Council and local organisations, which I found very encouraging.  

I feel it is very important to reach residents who live isolated later lives in our borough. This has been identified as an issue locally and I want to use my time as Older People’s Champion to work with local community groups, care groups, Age UK and others to reach this group. One way of getting people connected is by enabling them to get online and using Ipads/tablets regularly to stay connected. This will also help them have more e control over the services they get, such as accessing their health records more easily.

I will continue to build on the already existing good work carried out by our statutory, voluntary and community sector and I hope to see more older residents getting online over the coming year.

The Full of Life Fair is a local version of the national Full of Life campaign. Each year, organizers call on local voluntary groups and community centres to host Full of Life events locally to highlight what is available locally for local older residents and carers looking for support or information.

Updated: 22 June 2017