Rural Older People Stand Up to be Noticed!
Rural Community Network held a successful conference recently which was titled, Rural Older People – Why they matter, who cares anyway? The event was organised to acknowledge the end of the Rural Older People – Skills for Solutions Programme, a community development project which was developed by Rural Community Network and funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. The Project aimed to develop the voice of rural older people to highlight challenges that comes with living in rural areas as ageing progresses.
Caroline Maguire, Project Coordinator for the project stated, “The key message to rural older people from this project was that they should be valued and not ignored or excluded, they should be respected and listened to, they should be involved in decisions that affect their lives and they should have aspirations for their future.” The conference provided an opportunity for older people who participated on the project to present details of the work they undertook and to question Policy Officers on present and future policies affecting the daily lives of older dwellers from various departments including, OFMdFM, DARD, DRD and DHSSPS.
Alicia Wiggans, from West Fermanagh, who participated on the project added, “I have begun to question why there are less opportunities for rural older people. Two years ago I would not have had the courage to stand up and demand responses. Getting involved in the Skills for Solutions Programme has awakened a braveness in me so that I can do it now.”
The Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge who was keynote speaker at the conference added, “If adequate services and facilities are not in place for rural older people they can become vulnerable and isolated and unable to participate fully in a local community. It is therefore essential that the needs of older people in rural communities are recognised.”