Isolated older people residing in Larne, Carrick and Ballymena areas are set to benefit from a £495,658 grant secured by the Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) through the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Connecting Older People’s Programme.
The launch event, which took place at Drumalis House, was attended by over 75 people, many of whom will be involved in supporting the Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership to reach out and connect with older people at risk of isolation over the next three years.
Following a welcome by Larne mayor Councillor Maureen Morrow, Deirdre McCloskey, MEAAP project development officer explained how the funding will be spent over the next three years by MEAAP, a partnership comprising of representatives from the community and voluntary sector and statutory organisations.
As well as funding the ‘Good Morning Ballymena’ and ‘Good Morning East Antrim’ projects, which provide vital one-to-one support to older people in terms of a daily phone call, or befriending support, the MEAAP Big Lottery funded project will support the Citizens’ Advice Bureau to provide a dedicated older people telephone advisor for those wishing to get advice and information on a range of issues.
Deirdre went on to say that as well as working in partnership with these three key organisations, MEAAP is also offering groups the opportunity to “register their interest in helping MEAAP deliver social activity programmes in their local area to help vulnerable older people in the coming months.
She said that with up to £450 available for 15 groups throughout the three boroughs, this is “an exciting opportunity to become involved with MEAAP and change older people’s lives for the better”.
A handyman service is also due to be launched in July 2014, offering at risk older people friendly assistance to complete small repairs works to their home, at a minimal charge.
Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund’s NI chair, said: “We are already seeing the really positive impact that the ‘Connecting Older People’ programme is having on the lives of our most vulnerable older people in Northern Ireland.
“The programme is supporting a range of vital projects such as the Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership to transform the lives of older people in our communities who are at risk of isolation, depression, mental and physical ill-health and low self-esteem. Our funding is supporting those older people who need our help the most.”
Siobhan Casey, Age NI director, congratulated MEAAP on the award of this significant grant package from the Big Lottery Fund, and went on to note the challenges ahead facing older people in Northern Ireland including the increasing strain of food and fuel poverty, the uncertainty surrounding welfare reform and concerns surrounding health and social care provision.
For further information on any of these activities, or to register your interest, please contact Deirdre McCloskey, MEAAP project development officer on 028 2564 5676/07712 305650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on facebook.