May 14 2014 - Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has welcomed the launch of an information pack designed to help raise awareness about elder abuse within Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.
Following the first Scottish national consultation of its kind, the Lottery-funded Older People Services Development Project have launched this new leaflet to help tackle what has been a hidden and unspoken issue.
The Lottery-funded Project – jointly run by the Trust Housing Association, Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association and Bield Housing and Care – has developed this information in partnership with Age Scotland to generate wider awareness of these issues, and to help identify signs of elder abuse or neglect within BME communities.
Speaking at the Elder Abuse Information Seminar in Glasgow, the Justice Secretary said: “It is profoundly chilling to think of older people in our society facing neglect and abuse.
“The information pack being launched today is a vital part of the strong, positive, message we need to get out to all victims of abuse in Scotland – You are not alone.
“The challenges identified and addressed by this information pack will play a vital role in assisting the elderly, in helping them plan for the future and feed in to our shared goal of building stronger and more resilient communities.”
The consultation revealed that, contrary to the perception BME communities ‘always look after their own’, this group of older people can face a range of difficulties. Indeed, it is sometimes the traditional reliance on family that can leave some older BME people vulnerable to financial, mental or emotional abuse.
“In BME communities, older people may already experience isolation and confusion through language and cultural barriers, and can also be denied financial independence and the means to access support or social services," says Rohini Sharma Joshi, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager of Trust Housing Association.
"Afraid to speak out for fear of abandonment, some of these older BME people are even unaware the problems they experience are actually termed as abuse.”
Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan also stressed the importance of overcoming these barriers. he said: "It is vital that we encourage those experiencing elder abuse to seek help, however, many people may not know where to turn to, especially if the person responsible is a relative or carer."
"That's why Age Scotland was keen to ensure our fact sheet on Elder Abuse reached the widest possible audience. This partnership ensures older people from accross Scotland's BME communities can access the same resources irrespective of language or access barriers."
And Gavin Philip, Superintendant, Police Scotland, said "Police Scotland is committed to working with all communities to help understand the impact of elder abuse or concerns this problem raises."
"This seminar was an excellent opportunity to reiterate our commitment to tacking those issues and to listen to people's concerns, with the focus being on the particular aspects surrounding elder abuse within BME communities."
Solicitor General for Scotland, Lesley Thomson QC also added: "I'm delighted to support the Older People Services Project and their excellent leaflet initiative to raise awareness of elder abuse. The safety and security of older people in Scotland and their right to live free from the fear of crime is the underlying principle of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's Older Person Policy.
"I Wish to reassure older people in Scotland that when they do report a crime, they will be treated with dignity and respect and their complaint taken very seriously."