£2.3m support for isolated older people

By Andrew Kennedy, Big Lottery Fund Communications Manager

Today we’ve announced a major grant for a project to reduce the isolation of older people by holding activities and events in Northern Ireland’s museums.

Clanmil Housing Association  is one of eight Northern Ireland organisations awarded grants totalling nearly £2.3 million from our  Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme, which supports older people affected by issues such as bereavement, disability or long-term illness or who live in residential care or sheltered housing.

Clanmil Housing Association is one of eight Northern Ireland organisations awarded funding

Clanmil has been awarded £499,126 to run its Treasure House project in partnership with National Museums NI (NMNI) which will improve the quality of life, health, self esteem and skills of isolated older people living in sheltered housing in Northern Ireland.

Older people will be invited to come along to groups run at National Museums sites, including the Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park. Here they will take part in traditional activities and courses including arts and crafts, local history and traditions, reminiscence, music, dance and drama.

They will also get the chance to study some of the artefacts and exhibits in the museum and special events and celebrations that will include friends and family are planned.

Maureen Pearce, 76, is a Clanmil resident in Ahoghill. “Older people love reminiscing about the past, it rejuvenates them and makes them feel like they are reliving their experiences,” she said. “I’ve take part in activities run by Museums NI, like history groups and dance classes, and I just loved them. Most of the time I don’t get out much to meet new people or try new things and I can get a bit lonely and down, but having these activities to try, things which I loved doing as a younger woman, will just be fantastic.”

In the North West, The Foyle Sign Language Centre has also been awarded £191,304 to reduce the isolation of deaf older people in the L/Derry, Strabane and Limavady areas by running training and activities to help them become more independent, improve their confidence, get them involved in their communities and make them aware of the support that’s available.

As well as running sign language courses for the older people involved, the project will train a sign language interpreter to provide counselling support and they are also planning to hold social events and activities including a luncheon club and arts and crafts.

The project will also run ‘Preparing for Retirement’ workshops where older people can get information and advice on areas like finances, winter fuel pricing, pensions and benefits, and they will hold deaf awareness sessions to raise awareness and understanding among the public and community organisations about the issues facing deaf people.

Willis McClelland, 63, travels regularly to the centre from Coleraine, because they provide services in his first language, British Sign Language.  “Last year I started a computer class which was taught in sign language,” he said.

“This class has helped me to understand how to access the internet, shop online, etc. Without this kind of facility, deaf people are marginalised and cut off from mainstream information. I sometimes feel very vulnerable and frightened, and having somewhere I can go for information and reassurance is vital for my well-being.”

To fin out who else got funded visit our website to see the full list of grants: http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/press-releases/northern-ireland/230113_ni_rocop_older-people-in-northern-ireland

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