Last week, the Menlo Park Hotel hosted an event which saw more than 250 older people from the Galway city, county and islands come together as part of the Age Friendly County programme for Galway.
The Age Friendly County (AFC ) programme is a key initiative of the Ageing Well Network – an independent network of leaders and heads of organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the field of ageing who share a vision of Ireland as the best country in the world in which to grow old, and are committed to achieving it.
The event featured key speeches from the Galway County Manager, Martina Moloney, Galway Community and Voluntary Forum Coordinator, Denise Feeney, Age Action, Age and Opportunity, AFC Programme Manager Sarah Wetherald and Berney Flanagan from EngAGE Kildare.
Participants on the day were given feedback from the extensive countywide community consultation process which took place in April and May of this year where more than 1,000 people came out to identify the key priorities for people as they age in Galway. Participants were also given details of how they can stay involved with the next stage of putting together an age friendly strategy for the county.
One of the most important outcomes of the day was that more than 35 older people put their names forward to be a part of an executive committee for the Older Persons forum for Galway. This forum is an essential part of the AFC programme and is a way for older people to raise their issues and concerns at decision making level as well as influencing future planning and development in Galway. The overall aim of this executive committee is to ensure that older people in Galway participate in the decisions which affect their lives. This committee will strive to do this through working on behalf of, and in partnership with, the Older Peoples Forum to advocate for positive change in issues like housing, planning, health and safety, inclusion and social partnership issues relating to older people. Two members of this committee will sit on the AFC Alliance for Galway which is made up of key decision makers such as the county and city managers, local area manager for the HSE, NUI Galway, and the garda superintendent. The forum will be hosted and organised by the Galway County Community and Voluntary Forum and their coordinator Denise Feeney.
Another aim of the event was to thank all who had participated in the consultation process, as well as to show that organisations are listening to the priorities raised by the older people themselves. The importance of social events came up time and again as being essential for both physical and mental health as well as being a great way of tackling social isolation. The highlight of the event was the music by Tommy Flaherty and Celtic Swing who kept the dance floor full all afternoon with a range of waltzes, quick-steps and jives. Spot prizes were also generously donated by COPE Galway, Oranmore Lodge Leisure Centre, John Raftery of CENTRA Claregalway, and The Galway Sports Partnership.
For more information contact Catherine Collum on 091 476514 or Denise Feeney on 091 476511.