Over 150 people from across County Wicklow travelled to the Brockagh Resource Centre, Laragh, on Friday (25th November) for the Older People’s Council annual seminar and Open Day. This is first such event to be held since pandemic restrictions forced the postponement of the 2020 gathering.
Chair of County Wicklow Older People’s Council, Mai Quaid, and Chair of the Wicklow Age Friendly County Alliance, Brian Gleeson, welcomed the gathering of older men and women (over 55s) and representatives of older adults from a wide range of support organisations.
Mai Quaid said that it had been a challenging few years for older people “due to the pandemic in early 2020 our annual seminar had to be postponed. In 2022 in consultation with our Older People’s Council Executive, we agreed that there was a huge appetite to bring back the seminar event, given the dreadful events of the previous two and a half years. It’s great to be back this year, with an event designed to provide people with information to help meet the challenges ahead, to reconnect with each other socially, share experiences and have some fun too!”
Keynote speakers at the event included Michelle O’Hara, Regional Manager, South Leinster, MABS; Patricia Rickard-Clarke, Sage Advocacy Services & Safeguarding Ireland, and Conor Geoghegan, Head of Services (South), ALONE.
In addition to staff from MABS, Sage and ALONE support services, members of the Wicklow Age Friendly County Alliance also had staff attending the event, to provide information on service and supports for older people, including: An Garda Siochana, Fire Safety Services, Citizens Information Services, County Wicklow Libraries Services, Healthy Ireland, Local Sports Partnership, County Wicklow Partnership, Bray Area Partnership, and also the Public Participation Network. Many projects and supports also come from the community & voluntary sector that have worked tirelessly to support older people.
Music at the event was provided by the ‘Barn Ensemble’, a group of people over 55 who started playing music together in 2020, and ‘The Wicklow Man’.
Speaking after the event, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council and Chair of the Wicklow Age Friendly County Alliance, Brian Gleeson, said: “Wicklow County Council has made significant progress in embedding an age friendly approach to all of its work, since the launch of the first Wicklow Age Friendly County Strategy in 2017. Taking the challenges of recent years into account and working in consultation with older adults and other stakeholders, the Wicklow Age Friendly County Alliance, are currently in the process of developing a new Wicklow Age Friendly County Strategy for 2023-2027, which we will be delighted to launch early in the New Year.”
Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Tommy Annesley, stated: “It is important that as a society we recognise and acknowledge initiatives that support older people and make Wicklow a great place to grow old. I would commend all the individuals and organisations here who contribute to making Wicklow and Ireland a more age-friendly and inclusive place to live.”
Senator Pat Casey, Age Friendly Ambassador for County Wicklow, said: “The Older People’s Councils are representative groups of older people who work together and with key state and voluntary agencies to make Ireland a better place in which to grow old. I would also encourage older people in Wicklow to engage with the County Wicklow Older People’s Council and join the OPC to have their voice heard at the next AGM, in 2023. The OPC represents the voice of older people on the Wicklow Age Friendly County Alliance, which will be responsible for delivering on the actions in the new Wicklow Age Friendly County Strategy.”
The World Health Organisation ‘Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme’ has been running for nearly 15 years and has been implemented by all 31 Local Authorities in Ireland. The programme is built on the recognition of the valuable role that older people can and should play in shaping their communities for the better and it aims to make Ireland a truly great place in which to grow old.
Alice Corbett, Regional Manager Southeast, for Age Friendly Ireland, provided an update on activities at the seminar including some projects in Wicklow, in recognition of the county’s innovative and creative approach to making Wicklow a great place in which to grow old.