Belfast Telegraph

Positive support for elderly call

The Government must do more to support positive attitudes to ageing in Northern Ireland, it was claimed.

Older people should be appreciated for their abilities in helping promote good relations, a lobby group for seniors added.

An event recognising elderly involvement in setting up businesses which direct profits into local communities to address social exclusion and poor health will be held at Stormont.

Phil Evans, vice chairman of the Age Sector Platform, said: "As an organisation representing 30 older people's forums and networks in Northern Ireland, we call on the Government to recognise that older people should not be considered as vulnerable, passive recipients of services any longer in strategy and policy.

"Rather they should be congratulated, supported and appreciated for the diversity of their abilities and their willingness to actively provide resources to support themselves and their peers."

The lobby group has been working with Queen's University which has carried out research on ageing in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, Sweden and Finland.

Dr Katy Radford from Queen's School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work said: "Older people make a significant contribution to life in Northern Ireland.

"We urge the Government to commit to developing policies which actively support positive attitudes to ageing and older people's participation in society, as well as to promote the notion that older people are not merely the recipients of services."

There are more people living in Northern Ireland aged over 50 than under the age of 19 and in the next 20 years the number of over 50's will increase by more than 30%, bringing with it an increase in service delivery needs.

There are challenges in providing these services, particularly at a time of increasing pressure on public spending.

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