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Connecting with people - Ciarán McKinney

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It is important, in our work at Age & Opportunity, to go out and meet people on their own territory. A few weeks ago, Liz Harper and I were in Galway to celebrate the completion of a phase of the Touchstone project carried out by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology in NUI Galway. Touchstone has been developed by the Active Ageing Partnership (AAP) – an initiative of Active Retirement Ireland, Age & Opportunity and Third Age, that aims to develop the skills and knowledge of people who wish to play a part in helping to make their communities more age friendly.

A large group of older people took part in an eight-week programme designed to develop their capacity and skills in being more active as citizens. It was a great success and we are looking forward to beginning a new Touchstone project with the Older People’s Network in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown in the coming months, our colleagues in Third Age have started one in Meath and Active Retirement Ireland have started started one in Waterford.

While there's a lot of energy out there to make a difference, Age & Opportunity often begins by inviting people to take some time to reflect on life and their own personal circumstances. For example, the well-established Ageing with Confidence programme, delivered over a period of eight weeks, invites people to reflect (and to share those reflections with the group); this can sometimes be life-changing for people that take part. Recently, Liz Harper, Age & Opportunity’s Head of Community and Lifelong Learning, met a woman who had taken part in an Ageing with Confidence course in 2014. She has now just graduated from the SAGE advocacy programme and told us that it was the Ageing with Confidence course that gave her the confidence to do it. 

It is always gret to hear stories from people about how taking part in our programmes leads to becoming more involved in the community. We published a book of such stories from our Get Vocal programme last year, 'Finding Our Voices, Making A Difference' and it is really inspiring. You can call us on 01 805 7709 for a FREE copy. 

Ciaran McKinney


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