GOLD - brought to you by Citizens Advice Darlington - works towards providing a brighter, active and more positive future for people over 50 and towards improving the quality of life for all. We listen to your views on social care, health and other issues and take action where possible.                                                                      GOLD champions the cause of the over 50s in Darlington and if you want to be more involved, get on touch.

Marathon effort to fundraise for GOLD


A care home worker is making a marathon effort in aid of a charity that champions the cause of people over 50 in Darlington.


Greg Smith, 29, is in training for the Great North 10k and will be raising money for GOLD, Growing Older Living in Darlington, which is an organisation working towards a brighter, active and more positive future for people over 50.


Greg, a care worker at Moorlands Care Home in Darlington, said: “It is great to be running for GOLD. They do a lot of work for a group of people who are often overlooked by other charities.


“GOLD has done a lot for older people in Darlington. I have been involved in a lot of events managed by the group and the help and support they offer has been great for the community and older residents. They provide help advice and support to people of Darlington and arrange the tea dance in the market square among many other things.”

Greg, of Granville Place, Darlington, trains daily for the Great North 10k, which takes place on Sunday, July 3, in Gateshead, and recently completed the Hardmoors Roseberry Topping Half Marathon.


Greg said: “I am not really a runner. I completed the Roseberry Topping Half Marathon and have done some circuit training, but really I just do a bit of exercise every day after work to keep myself in shape.”


So far Greg has raise £50 towards his £500 target. He said: “GOLD comes under the Darlington Citizens Advice banner, and that organisation is under threat because of proposed council cuts, so I wanted to help GOLD in the light of that news. I am just trying to raise as much money as I can.”


It is not Greg’s first fundraising challenge in aid of GOLD. In October 2015 he raised £150 for the charity by completing the ice bucket challenge.


He said: “I hope that residents of Darlington will support me and donate to help keep GOLD active.”


People can donate to Greg’s fundraising 10k via

Consumers missing pension scam warning signs

Nine in ten people (88%) miss common warning signs of a pensions scam - such as unusually high investment returns, cold calling and offers of free financial advice - despite feeling confident they can spot fraudsters’ tricks.

A new report from Citizens Advice, ‘Too good to be true’, reveals a mismatch between people’s confidence in spotting a scam and their ability to do so. Three in four (76%) said they are confident they can identify a pension scam but just 12% were actually able to do so when a scam was presented to them.

The new research highlights how scammers’ tactics are shifting away from pension liberation schemes offering high rewards and moving towards free pension reviews and advice as a first step towards tricking people out of their pension pots.

A 59 year old man sought help from Citizens Advice after a near miss with a pension scam. He was cold called by a company offering a 'free pension review' which recommended he invest his retirement savings in Hong Kong. The man was offered an appointment the next day but when documents were couriered to his home, he realised something was amiss and refused to sign. He has since been helped by Citizens Advice to stop the company from contacting him again.

The report also reveals people are particularly at risk of scams from phone calls, post and emails which come out of the blue. As many as 10.9 million consumers have received unsolicited contact about their pension in the last year.

Almost two thirds of consumers (64%) say they would consider an unsolicited offer about their pension and many would only consult informal sources about whether the approach is genuine.

When asked how they would check whether a pension offer was legitimate, almost half of those who would consider an unsolicited offer about their pension (45%) say they would look up a company’s website and over a third (36%) would discuss with family.

Only one third of people (33%) say they would make sure the company is listed on the Financial Conduct Authority’s online register, which is the best place to check whether a company is authorised to give regulated advice.

Neeraj Sharma, chief executive of Citizens Advice Darlington, said:

“Fraudsters have shifted their tactics to rob people of a retirement income. It’s difficult for consumers to stay ahead of pension scams as they evolve. Many scammers use professional looking websites and leaflets to fool their victims into signing up to free pensions advice or cold call with offers of unusually high investment returns.

“If you are are worried that you may have been targeted by scammers you can get help and support from Citizens Advice. If you are over 50, Pension Wise guidance can equip you with the knowledge of what to look out for to avoid falling victim.”

Top tips for identifying a pension scam

  1. Ignore any contact you receive out of of the blue about your pension. This could be in person, online, on the phone or in the post
  2. Watch out for any promotion offering you more than 8% return on your pension investment
  3. Be wary of any offer to access your pension before 55. Accessing your pension early can mean you are hit with a high tax bill of 55%, as well as losing any pension savings in a scam.
  4. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision about your pension straight away, instead take your time
  5. Watch out for extravagant sounding investments based overseas
  6. Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) online register to make sure the company approaching you is legitimate. Anyone giving financial advice should be registered
  7. If you are making an investment, check the FCA ScamSmart warning list for known investment scams
  8. If you are transferring a pension, ask your current pension provider to check the HMRC registration of the new scheme to check it is legitimate

Darlington locals get help with their Tech


GOLD recently teamed up with Darlington Building Society to host a ‘Technicali-Tea’ event.


The older person’s advocacy group joined forces with the Tubwell Row branch of the society to host a Technicali-Tea Day, where older residents of Darlington were provided with free one-on-one computer and internet skills tutorials whilst they grabbed a cup of tea and biscuit.


GOLD, which is supported in its endeavour to provide a voice on local issues by Citizens Advice Darlington, is just one of the many organisations and businesses taking advantage of Darlington Building Society’s 160th anniversary pledge to use its resources to the benefit of 160 local organisations.

Chris Blewitt, branch manager at Darlington Building Society, said: “We’ve always been a community-focussed organisation, so it’s fantastic to be able to open our doors to local people and share our knowledge with them.

“It’s more important than ever that older people know how to make the most of computer technology and the internet. Whether that’s because they can save money comparing prices and shopping online, or stay in touch with family and friends, increasingly it is becoming a more apparent that everyone needs computer skills.”


Debbie Hackworth, GOLD group coordinator, said: “It was a fantastic event and many thanks to the building society staff for their time. Everyone who went along had a problem solved and we have been delighted with the feedback we have had. We are certainly looking forward to the next one.”

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