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Mencapís Link Me - New Opportunities for Older People

13 November 2013

Mencap have launched Link Me, a new and exciting project for older people with a learning disability aged 55 and over.

Link MeThe project will seek to enhance the wellbeing of older people with a learning disability by providing opportunities for them to take part in, and be included in, the life of their community. The half million pound project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run in partnership with Volunteer Now and in association with Omagh and Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Clubs, two Mencap local groups.

Launching the new project in Carrickfergus, Maureen Piggot OBE, director of Mencap in Northern Ireland, said that the Link Me project will listen to older people with a learning disability and help them take part in social and leisure activities in their local area. “On a day when the role played by all older people in society is being highlighted around the world, we want to celebrate the fact that people with a learning disability are now living longer and have a valuable contribution to make to the life of their local communities.

“By working alongside Volunteer Now and the Gateway Clubs, Link Me will ensure that volunteers with the right training and skills are available so that older people with a learning disability can be more active in their community. This could mean trying out new activities and doing the things they want to do, things that most of us take for granted; such as joining a social club for older people or going to a class in a leisure centre.

“We are also looking forward to exploring with older people’s clubs and other groups ways in which they can increase their confidence and capacity to reach out and include more people with a learning disability in what they do. By developing a new way of working in local communities that can be shared with others and replicated across Northern Ireland, we can lessen the exclusion often felt by older people with a learning disability. And we are delighted that we can do this with the support of the Big Lottery Fund,” Maureen said.

Hubert Redmond, who is a member of Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Club, helped launch the Link Me project and was also involved in the design of the project logo said, “I like gardening and cooking and going to the gym sometimes, but I like doing new things too.”

The Link Me project will be looking for volunteers later this year to roll out the project in partnership with Volunteer Now.Wendy Osborne OBE, Volunteer Now’s chief executive said, “Volunteering is a very social activity so we are delighted to be partnering with Mencap to link volunteers who will make a real difference to the social wellbeing of older people with learning disabilities.

“As well as acquiring new skills, they will also take part in an exciting and rewarding volunteering role that will have an immediate and positive impact on people in our community."

Joanne McDowell, director of the Big Lottery Fund NI, the Link Me project’s funder said, “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 in Northern Ireland.

“The programme is supporting a range of vital projects that are transforming the lives of older people in our communities who are 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.”

If you would like to know more about the project, email linkme@mencap.org.uk or visit www.mencap.org.uk/northern-ireland/what-we-do/projects/link-me

If you would like to find out more about the volunteering opportunities once they become available contact Lynne Jardine at opportunities@volunteernow.co.uk with Mencap in the subject heading.