New Support Network for Older People


The Trust, Age NI, County Down Rural Community Network, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council & Belfast HSC Trust have been working in partnership over the past year to create a new network for older peoples’ groups in the South Eastern Trust and Ards & North Down and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council areas.

The Older People’s Network will aim to identify training needs of groups by holding joint workshops, share information and best practice and improve communication and engagement with older people’s groups.  It will also aim to identify older people’s issues and concerns, influence decision makers, and build relationships with Council – Age Friendly, political parties and work with Age Friendly Champions.  The network will identify service gaps in the local area and develop further partnership and collaboration work and help with funding.

The network will provide vital networking opportunities that will increase support addressing the needs of older people now and into the future. A network database will be developed to keep groups informed about grants, training and useful information; raise profile of groups; have clearer communications pathways; improve relationships; work together with the Age Friendly Alliance to pursue issues; increase better connections and joint working.

A steering group of the partner organisations wish to invite representatives from all older peoples’ groups to an event to discuss the next steps on how the network will best serve the interests of older people in your area.

The event will be a great opportunity to share ideas on how you want a network to best work for your group.  The steering group will give you an update on their work to date and present a draft action plan of the older people’s network. They will ask for your vital input so all the voices of older peoples’ groups in this area can be considered.

The event will be held on 19 November 2019 in Lough Moss Leisure Centre, Carryduff from 10am to 12 noon.

To register your group/book a place for this event or if you want further information, please contact either of the names below by 10 November 2019 (2 places per group):

Wendy McDowell: or Tel: 028 9268 0852 (Lisburn & Colin groups)
Jocelyn Horton: or Tel: 028 9044 9330  (Castlereagh groups)

An example of recent partnership success took place at events held in both Lisburn and Newtownards which highlighted the need for a network to address the needs of older people’s groups. Key issues raised were a lack of networking opportunities for age sector groups and older people’s voices not being heard.

The events were highly successful and joint working with partner organisations to bring older peoples groups together.  It was well attended by group leaders who enjoyed hearing from the Mid Ulster Seniors Network and County Down Community Network, those who attended took part in group discussions and had some fun experiencing African drumming “Older People have a voice” with Releasing Rhythms.

Elaine Curry Age NI Age Sector Engagement Manager said, ‘This event was a great opportunity to identify groups issues and needs - we want a plan that works for groups to support them to work together in the future.  In the coming months, we hope to develop this Network and address the needs of older peoples’ groups supporting all the group leaders across the Trust and Council areas with regular meet ups.’

Wendy McDowell, Community Health Development Practitioner, South Eastern HSC Trust said, ‘The event was a great opportunity to identify issues and needs.  We want a plan that works for groups to support them to work together in the future.  In the coming months, we hope to develop this network and address the needs of older peoples’ groups, supporting all the group leaders across the Ards & North Down area.’

One group leader said at this event: “We need better co-ordination and collaboration to address older people’s issues. As a group leader we need this network to share ideas, share funding advice and help with funding applications. Meeting and communicating with other group leaders is great – we can share problems and support each other as we are all volunteers”.

North Down & Ards Area:

Should you wish to register your group for this network & be advised of future events please contact:

Wendy McDowell, Community Health Development Practitioner (South Eastern HSC Trust) - or Tel: 028 9268 0852     or
Frances McCormick, Rural Community Development Officer (County Down Rural Community Network) - or Tel: 028 9182 8884