Five organisations in Northern Ireland are to benefit from £1.3m of lottery funding to support older people who are suffering from isolating conditions such as prolonged illness, disability or bereavement.
A cancer charity offering a befriending service for the over-60s, an advice charity offering IT skills to older people and the Down's Syndrome Association, which provides a meeting place for people over 40-years-old with the condition and their carers, are among those sharing the Big Lottery Fund money.
The largest grant of £500,000 was awarded to Advice NI for its IT outreach project which will recruit and train volunteers, including older people with knowledge and expertise in using the internet, who will run classes and teach in people's homes.
Down's Syndrome Association has been awarded £200,000 to set up a support group in each county of Northern Ireland to encourage social interaction, provide advice and form social networks for people with Down's Syndrome and their carers.
Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI chair, said the funding is vital in these trying financial times in Northern Ireland: “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 during this period of recession 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 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.”
In addition, Cancer Lifeline was awarded over £192,000 to help older cancer sufferers feel cared for, Loughshore Care Partnership will receive almost £200,000 to run a befriending scheme for older people in Loughshore, and Newtonabbey Senior Citizens' Forum will run a range of services for people with numerous isolating factors such as bereavement or poverty with its £200,000 award.
The awards are distributed from a £20m funding pot ringfenced by BIG for its Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme for Northern Ireland which is now closed to new applications. BIG is still considering already received applications until 2013.