Making Life Better Together

Age-friendly focus at convention – 3 Mar 2015

Belfast is launching an Age-friendly Charter for local organisations asking them to sign up to a series of principles aimed at making it easier for older people to use services across the city.

The Charter, drawn up by Belfast Strategic Partnership (BSP), is one of a number of initiatives highlighted at today’s Age-friendly Convention in Belfast City Hall. Other topics include community planning, volunteering and a pilot project to tackle dementia in local neighbourhoods.

Councillor Bernie Kelly, Chairperson of the Belfast City Council’s All-Party Reference Group on Older People hosted the convention which was also addressed by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Maíre Hendron, and the Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey.

Councillor Kelly said she was delighted at how much progress has already been achieved towards making Belfast Age-friendly as it works towards being recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an Age-friendly City.

“We are working in partnership with a wide range of organisations, all of whom are represented today but the most important people who can help us achieve our aim are older people themselves.

“In consultation with them, we aim to highlight the invaluable contribution older people make to society in terms of experience, volunteering, creativity and business,” added Councillor Kelly.

“We can be proud of the work we have done so far, but we have more work to do and the proposals discussed today can and will make a difference particularly as our older population continues to grow,” said the councillor.

Belfast Strategic Partnership and the council has worked with a small task group involving Business in the Community, Age NI, Alzheimer’s Society, Danske Bank, Translink and the Greater Belfast Seniors Forum to produce the Age-friendly Charter which was officially launched at today’s convention.

The Age-friendly Charter will cover areas such as customer care; accessibility and signage; communications; and a diverse workforce. Older people and mystery shoppers will monitor the organisations to ensure compliance with the Charter.

Gillian McKee, Deputy Managing Director of Business in the Community officially launched the Age-friendly Charter in front of the 200 people attending the Convention at Belfast City Hall.

“The workplace of the future will be much more age-diverse than it is now and Business in the Community is encouraging employers to embrace the benefits that can bring. Older workers bring invaluable experience that can be used to develop younger employees and help improve company performance,” said Ms McKee.

“We would urge employers to sign up to the Age-friendly Belfast Charter and demonstrate their commitment to working together toward a more age-friendly society that values the contribution older workers can bring,” she added.

Minister Mervyn Storey whose Department leads on volunteering within the Northern Ireland Executive attended the event and said he had witnessed “the positive contribution made by older volunteers to our society.”

Speaking about the charter, he said: “I commend the Belfast Strategic Partnership for the Age Friendly Charter being launched today. Initiatives such as this are vital in highlighting the work that needs to be undertaken to remove barriers to inclusion and make our cities places that nurture involvement from the older members of our community.”

A pilot project, to be carried out in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society to encourage local communities to become more involved in helping dementia sufferers and their families, was also highlighted.

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