Project helps elderly stay connected

Trevor Robinson, Molly Wallace and Duncan Magee, tenants of The Old Mill, Larne, pictured along with volunteer Lynda Barkley at the Edwardian fun day.  INLT 36-676-CON
Trevor Robinson, Molly Wallace and Duncan Magee, tenants of The Old Mill, Larne, pictured along with volunteer Lynda Barkley at the Edwardian fun day. INLT 36-676-CON

Residents of a supported living scheme in Larne have welcomed a new project designed to improve the quality of life of isolated older people.

More than 100 older people, all tenants of Clanmil Housing sheltered housing schemes throughout Northern Ireland – including The Old Mill independent living scheme in Larne – gathered at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra to celebrate the Big Lottery funded project, Treasure House.

Participants joined period characters at the museum for traditional fun and games at an Edwardian-themed garden fete.

Clanmil was awarded £499,126 to run the Treasure House project in partnership with National Museums NI over five years from 2013 to 2018.

The project gives over 1,000 older people living in the association’s sheltered housing schemes the chance to enjoy regular workshops at museum sites throughout Northern Ireland.

Tenants take part in activities, including arts and crafts, local history, music and dance, that prompt memories, start conversations and help build friendships.

Colette Moore, Group Director of Housing at Clanmil said: “This project encourages our older tenants to get out and enjoy social activities and make new friends. By taking part, they have opportunities to reminisce about the past and also to enjoy new experiences.

“Activities like this can have such a positive impact on older people’s quality of life by helping to keep body and mind active and bringing them together to enjoy each other’s company.

“Our tenants’ enthusiasm and excitement has been overwhelming and in the first year of the project more than 70 per cent of those who’ve attended one project session have signed up for more.”

Beth Hamil, who lives at The Old Mill in Larne, has been taking part in project sessions for the past year.

She said: “I really look forward to the Treasure House days out. There’s always something different to see or do and I particularly enjoy the sessions that look back to how things were when I was younger.

“It’s lovely to be able to talk about days gone by, to share my memories and hear other people’s stories. It’s given us all something new to think about and we’re certainly never short of something to talk about now.”