A project to support older people with Down’s syndrome and their parents and carers has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Down’s Syndrome Association is one of five Northern Ireland organisations awarded grants totalling almost £1.3m from the Fund’s Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme.
This programme supports older people affected by issues such as bereavement, disability or long-term illness or who live in residential care or sheltered housing. The organisation has been awarded £200,000 to set up a support group in each county in Northern Ireland, offering a place where people over 40 with Down’s syndrome and their carers can meet and share their experiences.
The grant will also be used to hold weekend residentials offering activities for people with Down’s syndrome and respite for their carers and a befriending scheme where volunteers are matched with an older person to encourage them to take part in activities.
One hundred years ago, a child born with Down’s syndrome had a life expectancy of seven years. But people with Down’s syndrome are now living into their 60s and 70s.
Donna Lynch, regional manager of the Down’s Syndrome Association, said: “One of the oldest carers we spoke to was 92 and was still looking after his daughter.”