2017 is set to be an exciting year for Age UK London, not least because we have a new Chief Executive at the helm! Here’s your chance to meet Paul Goulden and find out what he wants to bring to the table…
First of all – welcome to Age UK London! How did you come to work for us?
I worked in political campaigning and fundraising for ten years before joining Age Concern Bromley (as it was then) in 2005 as Business Manager. I then became Chief Executive of Age UK Bexley in 2009 and when the role came up with Age UK London it was a chance to work with a great organisation that I knew reasonably well, so it was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t pass up.
How are you settling in, is it very different to places you’ve worked at before?
Fine so far! It’s helpful that I’ve come from a local Age UK so I know something about the organisation and history. I also know and have worked with some of the staff before so it is great to be working with them but with a different hat on.
Why the age sector? Why are older people’s issues important to you?
For me, working in the voluntary sector is all about removing barriers and giving people opportunities so that they can live the life they want (or at least move in the direction they want). Older people have so much to give in terms of knowledge, experience and time, and yet the experience of older people continues to be a really mixed picture.
What do you work on within your role as Chief Executive?
My work is basically delivering the governance and strategy of the organisation – making sure we’ve got a long term view of what we want to achieve for older people and then making sure it is delivered. In amongst this there is also an element of problem-solving with staff and helping them do the best job that they can, and also working with Age UK and the local Age UKs in London.
What is your vision for your time at Age UK London?
There are any number of challenges for older people in London and the organisations we work with – an ageing population, pressures on health and social care funding, Brexit, the pace of technological change – but all of these can also be opportunities for older people. So Age UK London needs to continue to be the voice of older people in London, reflecting what they are thinking and feeling and then making sure their voice is heard and that the services they get are what they want.
What has been your best experience whilst working with older people?
Probably the stand-out one is the Men In Sheds project in Bexley. I got funding from Bexley Council to start it up and then my staff took it on, got continuation funding and sorted out new premises. It was great to see the members’ commitment to the Shed and all the things they built – for themselves, for others, for sale to bring in funds and for the community.
What are the biggest concerns you hear from older people?
There is a lot of anger from some older people that they are forgotten or marginalised either because of the way they are treated or because of their own personal circumstances. There is also a real frustration about getting things done – particularly when they deal with local authorities or the NHS – and they often can’t understand why things take so long or are done in a certain way, or that they have to go explain their situation over and again to different people.
Hopefully the moves towards more integration of health and social care will improve this and many local Age UKs are meeting this difficulty by providing “care navigator” work which is a single point of contact for all an older person’s needs.
What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?
Walking a mad cockapoo called Molly. Creative writing – there is an event called “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” where they put out themes like “Crime” or “Monsters” and then invite short story submissions or 1000 words and they then perform some of them live at the Toynbee Hall. I’ve had a couple performed, but mainly it’s just fun to do the writing.
I’ve also started going to watch Millwall. My guilty pleasure is “American Pickers” on Dave.
Finally, who is your “desert island band” and why?
Nine Below Zero are a rhythm and blues band who I’ve seen a couple of times live. They’re great musicians and really know how to please a crowd.
So, there you are! Now you know all about our new Chief Executive Paul Goulden! We’re also pleased to announce that Paul is set to write a monthly blog for us, so keep your eyes peeled for his first contribution…