Older people in rural parts of County Londonderry feel isolated and lonely, according to a body aiming to tackle the problem.
The ‘Rural Area Partnership in Derry’ (RAPID) say, in a press statement issued to this newspaper, they wanted to do more to support rural people in urban areas of rural Londonderry after coming across media coverage “the isolation and loneliness experienced by older people”.
RAPID said that after holding a series of events to talk to older people from rural areas, they found: “Many said they felt that the current activities and services provided were not relevant to them. They reported that they often felt isolated and wanted to meet new friends, improve their health, learn new skills and improve their local area.”
In response, RAPID worked with six community groups to try and set up a number of businesses - such as a rural kitchen and a garden centre - which would invest their profits back into the community.
The name RAPID have given to their project is the ‘Healthy Ageing Network in Derry’, or HAND. However, the rural area partnership say they need the help of older people to try and get the project off the ground.
A press statement from RAPID states: “The HAND project is keen to attract older people who currently do not engage with the services that are provided locally; especially the more physically active older people who have recently retired and are finding this transition period quite difficult. Volunteers from this group of older people will be supported in the setting up and running of 6 businesses including Allotments, Garden Centres, a Health and Well-being Centre and a Rural Kitchen.”
Organisers say the HAND project is also going to benefit the less physically active older people of rural Londonderry, who may be unable to volunteer for the social economy businesses. This group will be encouraged to take part in the services and activities funded by the profits made through the social enterprise. It is hoped that through the HAND project rural older people will experience better health, improved well-being and greater social support.
The project will take part in Park, Eglinton, Lettershandoney, Claudy, New Buildings and Strathfoyle.
For more information contact Una on 028 7133 7149.