Mid East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) held a “Making Later Life Better” event in the ECOS Centre, Ballymena, to discuss the partnership, planning and action that must be taken to ensure a better later life for people in Northern Ireland, now and in the future.
The Age NI charity was delighted to be joined by guest speaker, deputy mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Timothy Gaston.
Age NI dhair, Eileen Mullan said: “Our population is ageing – by 2033, the number of people over 65 in Northern Ireland is set to increase by over 60 per cent.
“Right now, we are at a crossroads, facing important choices that will affect Northern Ireland society for generations to come. In the last eight years, we have been working with 11 regional networks, including MEAAP to ensure the greater collaboration of older people’s groups across Northern Ireland and to strengthen the regional voice of older people.
“These networks were developed with the new councils in mind so that they would be in a proactive position to influence important decisions on local policy and services in their local area. We recognise the important role of the council in this process and welcome their commitment today.
“Age NI believes that the clear voice of older people is key to supporting decision-makers to make the right choices. It is important that people in later life have meaningful opportunities to participate and engage in decisions that affect their lives.
“That is why we are working with MEAAP today to create an open and honest space where the challenges and opportunities of ageing can be raised and discussed. Age NI has developed a new strategy, ‘Making Later Life Better’ for 2015-2020 which aims to secure three positive outcomes for older people - enough money; the opportunity to stay well, and feel good; and the right to be equal and engaged citizens.
“In partnership with MEAAP, and with the support of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and local stakeholders, we believe that we can encourage greater understanding of the potential that exists in later life and ensure that the growing and varied needs of older people are addressed.”
The deputy mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, added: “It has been a pleasure to represent Mid and East Antrim Borough Council at this event. It is our aim to positively contribute to the diverse needs of older people and enhance their well being and independence.
“It is important to proactively engage with local older people, listen to their voice and ensure that they play a significant role in community planning in the area. Working together we can make Mid and East Antrim Borough a better place for all.”
Caroline McKeown, chair of MEAAP, continued: “We are delighted to hear from Age NI at this event, marking the next step of our journey to ensure that older people in the Mid and East Antrim region have a voice in the community planning decisions that affect their lives.
“By working together and building the skills and sustainability of older people’s groups, we can ensure that decision-makers and influencers in our area recognise and respect that older people are a significant part of our population and must be heard.”