Elder abuse DVD makes its way from small screen to the stage

Former Mayor of Derry Brenda Stevenson pictured at the launch of new DVD resource A Costly Subject.

Former Mayor of Derry Brenda Stevenson pictured at the launch of new DVD resource A Costly Subject.

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Londonderry actress Stella McBurney says she hopes a new drama tackling the scourge of financial crime against older people will prove instructive and entertaining.

Stella is a member of the Top Ten Women’s Drama Group, which will present ‘A Costly Subject’ as a play in the Guildhall.

The project grew out of a DVD Drama Resource designed to raise awareness about financial scams.

“‘A Costly Subject’ is aimed at reaching older or more vulnerable people in the community to teach them about the growing problem of scams and other elder financial abuse.

“I am delighted that our DVD Resource of ‘A Costly Subject’ will now be presented as a drama performance and will engage our peers at first hand with the issues,” said Stella, who is group secretary and performer.

The Top Ten Women’s Drama Group was established by the now defunct Workers’ Educational Association Learning Age Project and is based at the Old Library Trust. OLT has partnered the group on several projects aimed at older people. The drama group was responsible for the highly successful bogus callers project “Don’t …be my guest” in 2011/12. This DVD resource is still in use today by the Policing and Community Safety Partnership eg with Community Safety Wardens and other community leaders working with older people. During the bogus callers project older people were asked what other fears they had. Scams and other elder financial abuse came top of the list.

The performance of “A Costly Subject” has been re-devised from the film resource to became a theatrical performance to take the audience, who will represent over 150 older/vulnerable people across the Derry and Strabane Council area through a series of scenarios to help introduce some of the issues about scams and financial abuse and to begin to raise awareness and teach the steps to take so that fewer people become victims of these crimes. The drama looks at several types of scam and financial abuse (1) An investment scam (2) Competition or mass market scam (3) A Credit card scam and finally (4) Family financial abuse. The scenarios have been devised by the Top Ten Women’s Drama Group under the direction of Mary Fitzpatrick and Sinead Devine. “It is wonderful to see the women utilise their dramatic skills to help support their peers” said Sinead Devine. “They are such a skilled drama group now and this project has only helped to increase both their skills and confidence” added Mary Duddy.

The project has been funded and overseen by the Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP). Speaking in advance of the performance Councillor Eric McGinley, Chairperson of the Derry and Strabane PCSP said

“The Derry and Strabane PCSP is delighted to support this production which will, no doubt, raise much needed awareness of elder financial abuse and give an insight into the many scams that are currently in circulation. In 2013 the PCSP secured funding from the Department of Justice under the Assets Recovery Scheme to produce the DVD and I am delighted that we were able to provide additional support this year for the drama production. Often, these scams target the older generation and it is fantastic to see the talented Top Ten Women’s Drama Group bring examples of these scams to life to enable older people to recognise the dangers and avoid becoming victims of financial abuse. We would hope that the project will help increase confidence in older people by tackling and reducing the fear of crime”.

Please contact the Old Library Trust on 028 71 37 38 70 for further details on The Top Ten Women’s Drama Group.