THE organisers behind a new forum for older people have vowed not to let people in the city go without heating this winter.
Mary Blackmore, a community development worker with the PAUL Partnership, was speaking at the launch last week of Limerick city’s ‘Get Vocal’ forum. The aim is to get older people to speak with a strong voice on issues of concern. The first official meeting of the forum – open to all – will be held this Wednesday at 12pm in the Absolute Hotel and all are welcome to air their issues. “We are not going to allow people in Limerick to be cold this winter time,” said Mary. “We are going to take action and we’re going to tackle this issue.”
‘Get Vocal’– part of a nationwide campaign - encourages older people to speak up as part of a citywide forum that aims to represent the needs, issues and potential of those 55 and older. Community workers from the PAUL Partnership met in recent months with dozens of groups across the city to bring them together. Housing, anti-social behaviour, health, transport and heating were found to be among the most pressing concerns for older people in the city.
The national director of Older and Bolder is Patricia Conboy from Landsdowne Park on the Ennis Road and she was one of the guest speakers. She said older people were far from all being wealthy pensioners, despite the image portrayed: “The reality is that the state pension protects 91% against poverty.”
She also urged people to get behind the ‘Make Home Work’ campaign which is highlighting cuts to home-care support: “A lot of older people will tell you, ‘If I can, I want to be taken out of my own home in a box’.”
Guests at the launch included broadcaster Len Dineen and Superintendent Daniel Keane from Roxboro Garda Station.
Chairperson of the Wexford Age and Equality Network, Sean Kinsella, admitted there was a level of “apathy” among some older people: “We need older people with the vision to dream and the courage to realise their dreams.”
The organisers were “taken aback” at the full attendance from across the city. Ms Conboy is confident the new forum has “a really good chance of making a difference.”