Feelings of isolation and vulnerability among the elderly in Northern Ireland are being addressed by support programmes bringing young and older people together.
The Big Lottery Fund initiative is particularly aimed at those affected by issues such as bereavement, disability and long-term illness, as well as those who live in residential care or sheltered housing.
Under the Reaching Out programme, organisations can apply for grants of up to £500,000 to help improve the lives of the elderly by running various projects and volunteering programmes which have physical and mental health benefits.
A total of £20 million has been set aside and one scheme in south Belfast has recently received £200,000 from the fund.
Southcity Resource & Development Centre successfully applied for grant aid to provide a range of support services for the vulnerable elderly living in the Donegall Road and Sandy Row areas.
Services and activities will include a drop-in centre, health advice clinic, home safety advice scheme, shopping trips and swimming.
Donegall Road resident Pearl McKenna, 76, who lives alone and has a number of health difficulties, says she is looking forward to getting involved.
“There are times, especially during the winter, when I get a bit scared with all the young ones running around, and I just feel quite helpless really,” she said.
“But now we have the centre and all these activities, I’ll have a local place to go and meet people my own age.”
More information on the programme – open to voluntary or community-led organisations – is available at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk.
View article on News Letter website www.newsletter.co.uk/news