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Author: Age NI / BBC NI
Published on 27 November 2015 08:00 AM

With now more than 350,000 older people living in our community it has never been more important to give a helping hand to those who may need our support.

Playing Our Part - launching today - is a broadcast appeal from BBC Northern Ireland in association with Age NI which calls upon everyone to play their part to help older people within the community.

Older people play an important, if sometimes overlooked, role in local society. Their needs, experiences and contribution to community life, however, don’t always get the attention that they deserve.

Fronted this year by BBC NI’s Barra Best and BBC Radio Ulster’s Kim Lenaghan, the appeal encourages as many people as possible to play their part and advises on some simple ways to help an older person, be that by calling or visiting them, helping out with some jobs around their house or just making some time for an older friend or relative.

Barra Best says: “I’ve always been lucky enough to be surrounded by older people who've made such a positive impact on my life; teachers, workmates and especially members of my family. I'm so pleased to be involved in Playing Our Part, a chance not only to highlight issues around older people and what we can do for them but also to celebrate and thank them for everything they do for us.”

BBC Radio Ulster’s Kim Lenaghan says: “Loneliness and social isolation don’t only affect older people, but they are a problem for many in later life. As neighbours and family members there are lots of things we can do to help make a difference. The message is simple - everyone can play their part – as individuals, organisations and communities - and it is the small things that can make a huge impact.”

Peter Johnston, Director BBC NI says: “We’re delighted to be working with Age NI again to bring the Playing Our Part broadcast appeal back for a second year. This is a gentle but important call for individuals, organisations and communities to make a gesture of kindness towards someone older in our community.”

Linda Robinson, CEO Age NI, added: “Age NI is delighted to be BBC Northern Ireland’s Broadcast Appeal charity for a second year. We hope that the appeal will motivate and inspire people all over Northern Ireland to play their part for an older person they know this Christmas. One in three older people here say that they feel lonely. Older people tell us that kindness, and respite from loneliness, come in the simplest of forms – a phonecall, a visit, a wave across the fence, just a smile - little gestures that make a huge difference.”

Small gestures can have a big impact at a time when some older people can feel very alone.

So how can individuals, groups
or organisations help?

Why not consider some of the following:

  • Making time to chat with an older neighbour asking how they are and offering help it it’s needed
  • Christmas is often a time for catching up with friends. Is there an opportunity for an older neighbour or relative to be part of your festivities?
  • Winter weather can present all kinds of challenges – could you clear an older neighbour’s steps or pathway from snow or ice?
  • Could you collect an older neighbour’s groceries or help them to make an essential shopping visit if the weather’s bad?
  • Take time to get in touch with an older relative, lifting the phone, calling round, letting them know that you care
  • Remind an older relative or neighbour about Age NI’s Advice Line – 0808 808 7575
  • Encourage your school or college organise an event for grandparents or older people in the local area
  • Consider opportunities for your school or college to find out more about the experiences of older people – perhaps through study projects?
  • Many organisations run courses and events, so is there something more you could do to get older people involved?
  • Look at ways to celebrate the contribution of older people to your organisation or community and make the most of their insight and expertise

For more information on how to get involved with the initiative visit: ageni.org/playingyourpart

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575