Quick menu:

This site is showing only Wales and UK content. Change this using the country filters below or select Ok to accept. This site uses cookies.

  • Help and support

Big £2.3million to change lives of isolated older people in Northern Ireland

  • Print
Northern Ireland
Reaching Out: Connecting Older People
Release date:
23 1 2013

A project to reduce the isolation of older people by holding activities and events in Northern Ireland’s museums has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Clanmil Housing Association is one of eight Northern Ireland organisations awarded grants totalling nearly £2.3 million from the 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 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, were 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.

“At Clanmil we encourage tenants living in our sheltered housing to continue to lead active lives, helping to combat the isolation and loneliness that may be a factor in older age. Staying active and participating in stimulating activities as we grow older is very important for general our well being,” said Colette Moore, Clanmil Director of Housing.

“This project will mean older tenants can get out and enjoy social activities, make new friends and take part in traditional and cultural skills that they might have grown up with and are interested in. For instance, there will be traditional crafts like sewing, old time dancing and talks on local history. It will give those taking part an opportunity to reminisce about the past and also to enjoy new experiences.”

She continued: “We’ll also organise trips to the museums where they can visit the exhibits and handle the artefacts there which I’m sure will create discussion. Activities like this can have such a positive impact on older people’s quality of life by helping to keep body and mind active and bringing them together to enjoy each other’s company.”

Disability Action has also been awarded £467,568 to reduce the isolation, improve the quality of life and tackle poverty and financial worries affecting older people with disabilities across Northern Ireland. The charity will hold outreach events across Northern Ireland where they will provide older people with information, advice and support to help ensure they claim the benefits they are entitled to. 

Around 400 older people will receive training using the internet and social media to help them set up social networks and 75 older people will be trained as Peer Advocates, supporting and encouraging older people to become more involved in their local communities. Social groups will also be set up across Northern Ireland, offering activities ranging from lunch clubs to rambling groups, and the project will also work in partnership with suicide support organisation PIPS to support older people at risk of suicide or self harm. 

“There is an increasing number of older people with disabilities in Northern Ireland. Many of them are living isolated, lonely lives,” said Eamonn Donaghy, Head of Business Development. “Often they aren’t getting the support and benefits they are entitled to because they don’t know where to go for help, so they are living in a ‘spiral’ of poverty, ill health, anxiety and depression.

“This project will go out to communities across Northern Ireland, especially rural areas where older people don’t have access to transport, and we will engage directly with older disabled people who really need our support. We will support them to access benefits and resources which they are entitled to. The development of social networks and our Peer Advocacy service will enable us to reach out to isolated older people and support them to become involved in community activities.”

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “We are already seeing the really positive impact that the Connecting Older People programme is having on the lives of our most vulnerable older people in Northern Ireland.”

He continued: “The programme is supporting a range of vital projects that are transforming the lives of older people in our communities who are at risk of isolation, depression, mental and physical ill health and low self esteem. Our funding is supporting those older people who need our help the most.”

A full list of Reaching Out Connecting Older people awards

To find out more about the Reaching Out programmes visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

For more information contact:
Andrew Kennedy Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 02890 551 426
Out of hours contact: 07788 640 791

Notes to Editors
• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
• Clanmil Housing is one of Northern Ireland’s leading housing associations and currently owns and manages over 3,000 homes throughout Northern Ireland including family homes, homes for single people, independent living schemes for older people, housing with care for frail older people and supported housing for older people with dementia.  Clanmil aims to provide high quality homes at the lowest possible economic rent for everyone in housing need.