Third Age provides continuous services to over 22,000 older people throughout Ireland during 2020
Posted on 7th October 2021
In launching its annual report 2020 Third Age looks back on a year when a total of 22,771 people throughout Ireland received continuous services from the organisation.
This includes 17,642 callers to the national confidential telephone service SeniorLine, the 3,800 migrants who received conversational English classes each week from the Failte Isteach programme and the 943 people who were supported and guided with career advice in the Navigate Your Work Future initiative for older workers.
Last year, the AgeWell programme provided befriending and health support to 286 older people at home in Co Meath, while the national office in Summerhill offered an ongoing outreach programme to over 100 local members.
Third Age is a voluntary organisation working with and on behalf of older people. For over 33 years, the agency has been developing effective responses to the needs of this group, with the commitment of over 1,400 trained older volunteers who help deliver services
Key 2020 achievements:
- 8,760 hours of helping callers on SeniorLine with no break in service during Covid
- Specific support for callers suffering from mental health problems due to lockdown
- 2,325 face-to-face home visits to AgeWell clients
- Consistent reduction in client loneliness and increase in well-being revealed in four monthly external assessments
- New service launched for older workers in need of upskilling and networking
- Career guidance and practical supports offered in Navigate Your Work Future programme
- 134 classes each week provided by Failte Isteach to new migrants offering welcome and English language skills
- Expanded to reach learners living in five Direct Provision Centres in Counties Clare & Cork
- A range of practical and emotional supports offered to Co Meath Third Age members confined to home in pandemic
- Ongoing training offered to volunteers across all programmes contributing to their commitment throughout the year
Third Age chairman, Jack Nolan puts these achievements in context:
‘2020 was a year like no other. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in March meant that we immediately repurposed all programmes to ensure the safety of clients and staff’ he said..
‘The inability to hold any fundraising events in 2020 added to the funding difficulties in our sector. Third Age faced a time of great challenge in continuing to care for our clients under difficult circumstances. The pandemic is causing us, as a society, to reflect on the way we live and support each other. It has given rise to an ongoing debate on the needs of older and vulnerable people and how these are met.
‘In 2020, many people experienced the deep loneliness of isolation, fear and despair, and our services were more needed than ever. We are committed to alleviating the social isolation that primarily affects older people, and look forward to contributing positively to this national conversation with the thoughtful perspective we bring to all our work.'
Third Age CEO, Aine Brady, echoed this appreciation for staff and volunteers:
‘We entered 2020 with exciting plans for our national programme and a varied calendar of activities for our members in Summerhill. However, is soon became obvious that Covid-19 would have a significant impact on our work’, she said.
‘Externally we were supported by clear and transparent communication from government, particularly at the start of the pandemic when calm leadership was called for. The intervention of The Wheel, (Ireland’s association of voluntary organisations), seeking a resilience fund on behalf of the sector was very timely. As the year progressed, many programmes came under increased pressure from a frightened and distressed older public who needed extra services, reassurance and support. Our strengths were our flexibility and adaptability, our work ethic, and our ability to work as a cohesive team.
‘We thank all those organisations and individuals this year who have listened, who believed in us and have offered help and support. In spite of their own difficulties, our volunteers - older people themselves - stood by us and continued to donate their time and expertise while locked down. It is thanks largely to them that we are able to continue to deliver a quality service last year’, she said