‘We need to protect the elderly from their own vulnerability”

Chair of Luton Senior People's Forum Janett Scott
Chair of Luton Senior People's Forum Janett Scott

Octogenarian Janett Scott is committed to helping Luton’s elderly.

As chair of Luton Senior People’s Forum she heads a committee of what she calls the council’s ‘critical friends.’

“We’re not politically active,” she explains. “And we meet on a voluntary basis.

“But I don’t think the authorities are doing enough to protect older people from their own vulnerability.

“The thing that bothers me is that everyone wants to provide a service but they want to do it on the internet.

“Banks want to do away with cheque books but their older customers find it difficult to go online unless they have families who are familiar with the system.

“There are lots of fraudsters out there targetting them and the police are not making enough efforts to stop them. The perpetrators get a slap on the wrist, while the elderly victims’ life savings are being wiped out and their lives destroyed.”

In spite of her hard-hitting views, Janett doesn’t believe in confrontation. “We simply want everyone to have a voice,” she explained. “Our group includes representatives from the Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities. We also have a Jewish member and it would be nice to add someone Chinese.”
She added: “People from an ethnic background tend to look after their old people.

“The English are inclined to be more self-reliant. But if they’re not a part of the community they can be very isolated.”

The Forum meets every other month and invites guest speakers to discuss matters that are relevant to older people.

Janett, of Putteridge Road said: “Our biggest issues are public transport, critical care and hospital discharges.”

She has formidable experience speaking on behalf of minorities, both as a member of the Transgender Committee and as past president of the Beaumont Society, which provides help and support for the transgender community.

Many of her Forum friends are probably unaware that she started life as Terry Turner, worked as a pastry chef and joined the Merchant Navy before training as an engineer.

She married and had two sons and it was only after her wife died that she felt free to follow her heart and live as a woman.

“In 1992 I formally changed my name and my identity,” she said. “I’ve never been tempted to have gender reassigment surgery because you can’t change your sex. Men who make the transition to women can still have prostate cancer.

“The main thing is to have a sense of humour,” she smiled.“I consider myself gender-gifted. The native Americans say it’s two souls in one body – and that’s a gift.”