Published Thursday, 03 November 2011
Grants totalling over £2m have been received from the fund's Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme which supports older people affected by issues such as bereavement, disability and long-term illness, or who live in residential care or sheltered housing.
The Upper Andersonstown Community Forum (UACF) will use its £199,683 grant to provide a range of training and activities to reduce isolation, improve the mental and physical health and build the confidence of older people in the Andersonstown area.
The aim of the group's UTOPIA (Using Technology Older People in Action) project is to teach older people how to use technology such as computers, social media, digital cameras and DVD editing in order to communicate with friends and family, get more involved in community life, and to share their knowledge and experiences with young people.
The project will also recruit volunteers to help run a range of activities for the older people involved including social outings and walking groups.
"Older people in this community are not getting the vital support they require," explained Director Tish Holland.
"There are many older people who simply don't leave the house or sheltered accommodation where they live and don't get involved in their communities at all, while many are dealing with physical and mental health difficulties.
"More and more older people are using social media like Twitter and Facebook and Wiki sites to communicate with each other and their families.
"It's a great way to reduce their isolation and help them stay in contact with the outside world."
George Magennis, 62, from the Andersonstown area, has Parkinson's Disease. He has been attending the group for four years.
"My condition meant I became a recluse and barely left the house and I had become very depressed and lost my confidence," he explained.
"I started writing as a way of expressing the way I felt, but I didn't know how to use a computer to write things down and my spelling and grammar weren't great.
"I went along to the group's English classes and they taught me how to use a computer, skills I never thought I would have. I now write poetry and my confidence and self-esteem has been transformed.
The Alzheimer's Society, Engage with Age, Positive Futures and Mind Wise New Vision have also received awards.