The Notts North and South Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPIs) were once again well represented lobbying outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, asking for transitional payments for women born in the 1950s, who were not given enough time to make changes to our pension arrangements before the government quickly brought in age changes to the State pension.
WASPI members from all over Britain joined together in Manchester to support each other.
The atmosphere, as always, was amazing. We were talking to WASPIs from the Borders, London, Chester, Kent, Manchester and other areas throughout Britain.
We did not meet any members from the Northern Irish or Scottish WASPI groups this time, but that could be due to Ryanair flights being cancelled, as I would have thought it would be easier for them to attend the Manchester lobby, rather than Birmingham last year, when many thousands of members attended.
It could also be due to the industrial action on the trains. There were quite a few trains cancelled at the large Manchester railway station, including the cancelling of trains to Manchester airport. Colleen Eales, our Notts co-ordinator, checked to make sure the trains we were catching were still running, before we left Nottinghamshire.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester and one of our biggest supporters, walked into the middle of our large group outside the enormous Manchester Library, opposite the conference.
Andy did not bring security with him when he came to talk to us, once again offering his support, before being interviewed by the television crews. Andy had previously made a great speech when we lobbied Parliament in London. Martin Lewis from the Martin Lewis Money Show, another WASPI supporter, came to see us.
At a coffee shop, we found ourselves talking to Conservative supporters attending the conference, who supported us.
Although we had the traditional television crews ie ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC looking for traditional interviews which we happily gave, including a great interview from the Chesterfield WASPI co-ordinator, which was on the national Channel 4 news on Tuesday evening. There were other lesser known social media interviewers (probably not lesser known to the younger social media generation) asking us political questions. Once again, we found ourselves explaining that we are a non-party political group. We are a group lobbying for a just cause.
Many WASPI members did not attend this year’s lobby of the Conservative conference, due to the terrorist threat level still being severe in the UK.
Many still care for sick or elderly relatives or look after grandchildren and a great many WASPIs just simply cannot afford the fare to get to the conference. However, there was still well over a thousand who attended.
If anyone born in the 1950s who has been affected by these changes to the pension ages and would like to join our supportive group, please contact Colleen Eales, our Notts North and south WASPI group co-ordinator, on Facebook. If you are not online, you can contact Colleen on 07813203518.