Opportunities for Older People - invaluable care and service

FOR over 26 years Cookstown’s Age Concern, now known as Opportunities for Older People (O4o), has been providing an invaluable service for older people living within the district.

From the provision of healthy, home cooked meals to special advice services, O4o not only supports the elderly living within our community, but keeps them active as well.

At present the charity runs a range of clubs and special schemes throughout the week for both members and non-members.

Monday to Friday, the luncheon club provides delicious three course lunches in its Oldtown Arcade premises. From 11.30am to 1pm local people can call in, enjoy lunch and have a chat. A special meals on wheels service is also provided from the Luncheon Club, home delivery is available six days a week, with double delivery on a Saturday with provision for Sunday.

“It is one of the area’s most vital services for the elderly,” says o4o president Margaret Gilbert MBE.

“We serve up around 80 meals daily, 20 to 25 of them being table service at the Oldtown Inn premises. The club also provides easily re-heated meals for people to take away if they choose. Around 60 meals are cooked on a Saturday, which ensures a hot meal at the weekend.

A typical dinner at the luncheon club will consist of a chicken casserole, or liver and bacon with potatoes and two vegetable choices as well as tea and coffee and a delicious, mouth-watering dessert. Some of our vegetables are produced in O4o’s own garden which is home to cabbage, onions, peas and turnip.

“We have great friendly, staff in the kitchen and all diets are catered for, including vegetarian, coeliac, diabetic and low salt. If they come along they can enjoy great company and craic and a nutritious, freshly cooked meal, which is locally sourced.

“We like to see people get out and meet others. I want people who are reading this, sitting at home on their own to come to the luncheon club. They can cut down on heating their homes and cut down on electricity.

On top of the o4o’s popular luncheon club, a range of classes in arts and crafts are available for both members and non-members allowing older people to socialise and learn new skills in a friendly environment. Currently taking place on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, participants can make use of their skills, or learn new ones, in painting, needlework, pottery, woodwork and computers.

Day trips are also available, at a discounted rate for members, who pay just £10 single fee for the year, or £15 for a couple. Any person with a bus pass also gets free rural transport.

04o membership also means great days away for less money, but also special discounts off local products and services including home heating oil.

The charity’s Walking Club, exclusive to members only, takes place on a Wednesday afternoon from 1.30pm and gives participants the chance to get out and about, even in inclement weather where bus driver Charlie McGuckin will take participating ladies and gents on a drive to avoid disappointment.

“My aim is to get more elderly people living on their own to come out, come join us, come and have a bit of fun and stay active in the community,” adds Mrs Gilbert, who was recently crowned the MAIL’s Person to be Proud of 2012, the recipients were delighted with the outcome.

“You can get very stale, very quick if you are in the house all the time. I want those older people to get out and interact. When you are out and about your health is better and that’s been proven, “ added Margaret.

“On top of the social aspect of things we also run and arrange talks with various agencies about everything from rates right up to various benefits. “This is mostly provided through our Monday Club, organised by Pat Bownes as well as our office at 14 Oldtown Street.”

“Just recently we had a solicitor in speaking about the importance of wills. The Monday club also runs bus trips, so it’s well rounded and has a little bit of everything for everyone.”

On top of the current range of services, clubs and classes available through o4o, the charity is working towards the future with plans with two staff members recruited with funds from the Big Lottery over the next three years to not only extend services, but shape O4o into a hub where older people will be able to access a lot more.

The Age Concern shop on Molesworth Street also remains an integral part of the charity’s make-up, and continues to operate throughout the year.

For further information on any of the above, please contact Irene at our office on (028) 867 699005