Supporting isolated older people in Cookstown

ISOLATED older people in the Cookstown area will benefit from a new project which will aim to improve their health and well-being.

040 is launching this Big Lottery funded project on Wednesday, September 19 at 2pm.

The Opportunities For Older People project will, over three years, improve the social inclusion, mental and physical health and well-being, and overall quality of life of the Cookstown district’s over 60s population.

040 (formally known as Age Concern) is based in Cookstown and has been providing vital services in the district for over 25 years.

Services include the One Stop Shop information centre and Luncheon Club at Oldtown Street, meal delivery service, charity shop at Molesworth Street and the delivery of various different activities including arts and crafts, walking club and day trips.

The new project, funded with a grant of £198,155 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme, will expand the range of services the organisation currently offers so it can support higher numbers of vulnerable, older people in the community referred to them by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Age NI and local care homes and sheltered housing.

The project will recruit two workers to provide extra support for services such as the luncheon club, arts and crafts courses, outings and meals on wheels, as well as helping to run new activities including pottery, a walking club, knitting and dancing. The new project workers will also train more volunteers to offer help.

O4O President Margaret Gilbert explained that the new staff members will have a real impact on their work in the area.

“There are people out there living alone in the Cookstown area who are very vulnerable,” she said. “Many older people are dealing with rural and social isolation; they have poor transport links in their areas and it is difficult for them to access the services they need, while they might also be dealing with loneliness, fear and poor health.”

She said there is a real need for more services for older people in this area.

“We are getting more and more referrals from the health trust and other organisations for older people who need our help, so we are expanding our services so we can get them out of the house, improve their physical and mental health and their overall quality of life.

“At present our project supports many members, who come in for their lunch on the free transport services we offer, and we send meals out to people in their homes. Some people are bedridden, but many are not, and we encourage them to come in and take an interest in our other activities,” she said.

Mrs Gilbert said O4O will now be able to support many more and they will be able to offer them a wider range of events and activities such as guest speakers or the chance to work in the garden which provides fresh fruit and vegetables for the luncheon club.

“There will also be advice on topics such as bereavement, retirement and courses on home safety and personal health,” she added.

The Project Launch will take place in the Luncheon Club premises, 14 Oldtown Street, Cookstown, at 2pm on September 19.

Special attendance at the launch will include Joanne McDowell, Director NI, Big Lottery Fund and Cllr Tony Quinn, Cookstown District Council Chairman.

Everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the launch of this new project. Refreshments will be served.