A programme providing vital support services to older people in Mid and East Antrim has been given a temporary reprieve until March 2018.
Immediate crises were avoided after Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) secured £70,000 to continue its Ageing Well & Reaching Out initiative, which has been operating since 2013.
Following a request to Community Planning partners through MEA Borough Council by MEAAP, the local government authority, along with the NI Housing Executive, Public Health Agency, Northern Health & Social Care Trust and the Health & Social Care Board, committed funds to support core services to continue for a further nine months.
Karen Hargan, MEA’s director of Organisational Development & Community Planning, said: “The support and services MEAAP offers in partnership is targeted to some of the most vulnerable and isolated older people from the Mid & East Antrim Borough.
“Their work is most valuable in terms of supporting the achievement of some of the aims within ‘Putting People First’ our first Community Plan whereby our vision for Mid & East Antrim to be a ‘strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community, where people work together to improve the quality of life for all’.”
The telephone befriending calls made by Good Morning Ballymena, Good Morning Larne & Good Morning Carrickfergus to over 400 older people every weekday morning will continue.
MEAAP will also continue working with Mid & East Antrim Citizens Advice to promote the benefits advice available via the three local bureaux
Other services backed via this funding include the handyperson support MEAAP offers in partnership with Bryson Energy to ensure small home repairs can be done at an affordable rate as well as creating two community newsletters and building the capacity of a network of over 120 older people groups.
Jean Haveron, MEAAP chairperson, said: “This investment by Community Planning partners through council was vital, as despite all of our ongoing efforts to join the many dots that exist, sustaining such vital services continues to be an extremely difficult task.
“We are always being asked to deliver more or deliver something new, with little or no investment, and yet the statistics and policies clearly show we have a growing older people population and need to invest in community-based support to keep older people active and involved in our communities.”
It is understood that the Community Planning partners within the council area remain committed to ensuring agewell-like services are supported in the long term.