Good year for Age Concern

THE Annual General Meeting of Age Concern Causeway (ACC), held in the West Bann Development Centre, heard an upbeat report from its Chairperson, Mrs Elizabeth Lee.

She reminded members that twelve months ago the organisation’s financial situation was “dire” but entirely due to the energies and initiatives of the Committee and volunteers who support ACC, the situation is now much more assured.

Mrs Lee outlined the various services the organisation provides. The Active Age group has moved to new and more comfortable premises at the West Bann Development Centre and it continues to provide a stimulating and entertaining range of talks and activities for all the over fifties. The Lunch Club in particular has experienced a revival of participation.

ACC’s Advocacy Service helps clients access benefits to which they are entitled but may be missing out on. Across the past two years Advocacy volunteers from ACC have helped local elderly people make successful claims amounting to more than £220, 000 – money which is then spent in the local community. ACC is the only charity at work in this area which offers home visits where necessary to help clients complete application forms.

The recently initiated Mealtime Companions project, run in conjunction with the Causeway Hospital has been a real feather in ACC’s cap. A total of 17 trained volunteers offer help to elderly patients who experience difficulties in eating their meals. So successful has this proved that local Care Homes have now expressed interest in introducing similar schemes.

The much-valued Befriending Service that ACC offers, where volunteers visit isolated housebound people for a chat, is coming under increasing demand and is an area where new volunteers could find a fulfilling way to spend a few hours each week.

ACC receives no core funding from statutory bodies, and financial support from outside our own fundraising efforts becomes harder and harder to find. Somehow the work of ACC’s dedicated team, particularly of its Fundraising Committee, has balanced the books over the last year and even achieved a small but encouraging surplus. But even with its newly streamlined and cost-effective management it takes over £70,000 a year to keep these important activities alive.

After Mrs Lee’s Annual Report a presentation was made to retiring committee member Mrs Vera Ravenhill, whose loyal and devoted service to ACC spans over twenty years since the shop opened in 1988. Although now approaching ninety - (as she confessed) - Mrs Ravenhill promised to continue volunteering in the shop.

Whilst ACC is more focused and more well-organised than ever before, and whilst demand for its unique range of services continues to grow, the entire operation depends upon volunteer labour. It is their 35th anniversary this year and there will be a big Celebration Day in October to commemorate this, together with other events.

You could be one of the new volunteers who are most urgently needed to sustain and develop ACC’s activities – in the shop, as a befriender, a mealtime companion, etc. They appeal to everyone reading this report to give the most serious thought to committing a few hours each week to helping us to help the most vulnerable members of our community. Why not give them a ring on 0287035 7966, or drop in to the premises at 13 Waterside, and see what you can do to help?