What made you start the group We Paid In You Pay Out and when?
It was when I realised that actually this issue of pension age change will affect me, I followed WASPI for a while and attended my first rally outside the Houses of Parliament with other 50's women in 2018 I then realised that there were so many different groups fighting the injustice that I felt we should really all be under the same umbrella, we all want justice, so let's all get together and fight together. We sort of swallowed up members from other groups where they could discuss our concerns without rules and regulations, we all wanted the same thing. We Paid In You Pay Out began in soon after and we now have close to 10,000 members in the main group and have many Local2You groups too, local groups making friends and looking out for each other on a local level and co-ordinating travel plans for national rallies and protests.
Have you had experience in running other groups?
Yes I created a group called Abolish Assessments and Benefit Sanctions which was relevant at the time as I was fighting the unfair welfare system with its assessment's and benefit denial to those who are sick and disabled. I realised that actually these groups are interconnected as many of the 50's women are suffering at the hands of this poor welfare system which is not fit for purpose.
Did you find campaigning and public speaking easy?
I thoroughly enjoy organising events and rallies, we've had several here in Weymouth, and joined other groups in huge national protests, but no public speaking is not easy for me, I have done it, but I find I get tongue tied and lose confidence, I am better writing letters than speaking in public.
Do you find MPs supporters of our campaign?
Yes we have many MP's who support the campaign from both sides of the house, but of course there are many who don't and this is where we come unstuck and we continue campaigning, to make MP's understand why we are campaigning and take on board our issues.
Are members proactive with campaigning? We have an abundance of members prepared to travel to protest, rally, demonstrate and those who can't because of caring responsibilities, work, age-related ill-health do their bit as keyboard warriors.
Are you campaigning just for women of the 50s? What about the men who maybe supporting some of the women affected by the rise of the SPA?
1950's women are just the start, we have seen a 6 year pension age increase squashed into 4 birth years, this is wrong, it should have been down slower and in a fairer way, but the thing is we all pay National Insurance to qualify for our state pensions and government just keep increasing the pension age, thus the title of the group WePaidInYouPayOut, we have all paid in and they need to pay out.
Why are you campaigning when the Government-and DWP clearly state that all of those affected were clearly notified, Kenneth Clark clearly mentioned this in 1995.
We were not notified about this change, Government send letters to all benefit claimants, all pensioners to advise them of any change to their benefits/pensions, but they failed to let us know that we would have to wait a further 6 years for our pension.
Are many ladies over 60 still in employment?
Women remain in employment when they can, those who can't attend job centres and have to prove they are looking for work 35 hours a week, seeking work they will never get as they compete with the youngsters. They receive sanctions if they don't do this job-search, some have used food-banks.
How many ladies have died RIP without being in receipt of their pensions?.
The latest figure was 92,000 women died before they reached their new pension age, this is quite shocking, and of course the figures will go up now we have this coronavirus, but the government are failing them again as the World Health Organisation states that those over the age of 60 are at risk, but many women and men have to continue to work in shops, in care, those who collect our rubbish and deliver our post, putting themselves at risk in doing so.
Does your group welcome men and women?
Absolutely, we are all in this together, a lifetime of paying into a system only to be denied what is due as our working life comes to an end, we have men who get involved in the fight and we also have a group of youngsters who are very talented and have put our issue to videos and chart topping music highlighting our campaign, we are all encompassing.