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Report on visit to meet Wicklow Network

03 Sep 12


Report on Meeting with
Wicklow Older Peoples’ Network
Tuesday, 28th August 2012
Arklow Bay Hotel

Nearly all the members of the Co. Wexford Age Equality Network accompanied by Marie Louise Byrne, attended the meeting in Arklow with the members of Wicklow Older Peoples’ Network. The meeting had been arranged between Marie Louise and Anne Kavanagh, Get Vocal Co-ordinators in the two counties

Unfortunately, Anne Kavanagh could not attend and Pat Brennan, Chairperson, was also unable to attend. Mai Quaid took over the chair for the Wicklow Network. Mai has recently been elected President of the Active Retirement Association in Ireland and is Vice Chair of the Wicklow Network

Mai welcomed all to the meeting and said she was delighted to see so many from Wexford. She then asked Sean to speak. Sean thanked Mai and the Wicklow Network for their warm welcome and expressed his disappointment, that due to circumstances beyond their control, Anne and Pat were not present.

Sean spoke about the forthcoming National Positive Ageing Strategy and hoped that it would underpin what both countries were looking for in developing toward age friendly countries. Frances Creggan from County Wicklow Partnership outlined the work undertaken by the Wicklow Ambassadors. The two main aims of the Ambassadors’ Programme are advocacy and lobbying – a two way information process. There are 7/10 volunteers who provide 3 hours per week. They seek out the concerns of older people and other groups and provide reports on their issues and activities to the Network Executive. Their reports are then researched further. The Ambassadors also promote and make aware the aims of the Network, distribute newsletters, and speak at events.

This was followed by a Question and Answer session. Marie Louise made a presentation on Ageing with Confidence. The group programme consists of 8 weekly sessions of 2 ½ hours each, led by trained facilitators. The aim is

1. to assist and facilitate people to explore their own ageing
2. to challenge the myths and stereotyping that leads to ageism
3. to provide information on physical, psychological and social aspects of ageing.

Marie Louise distributed a leaflet containing the views of the people who had attended the course, and also a map of Co Wexford indicating the areas that have conducted the Ageing with Confidence programme. Marie Louise also told the meeting about the On TRACk Training Programme (Turning Retirement into Active Citizenship). When Marie Louise was finished there was a Question and Answer session, during which Pat Morgan outlined the benefits of the Ageing with Confidence Programme from a participants point of view and said he had no hesitation in recommending it to everyone. The meeting then broke up into discussion groups.

The topic of the discussion groups was collective lobbying, after which each group reported back. There seemed to be agreement between the groups that lobbying was very worthwhile, particularly with our Public Representatives. Lobbying was also important in order to get our message across, and we need to be well prepared especially if dealing with the media. There was also a feeling that we should meet again. This was followed by a break for a beautiful lunch which was enjoyed by everyone.

After lunch, some of our members availed of the opportunity for a guided tour of the Arklow Boating lake, sea and lake walks, amenities and habitats. The day was fine and it was really wonderful to experience the beautiful amenities that are available free of charge for people of all ages. Wicklow should be very proud of these facilities.

After lunch, Marie Louise showed the video presentation on Louth Age Friendly County. This item was warmly received by all. More group discussion followed on the topic of Wexford and Wicklow as Age Friendly Counties.

The reports of the discussion groups indicated that Age Friendly Counties are a good idea and that we should cooperate together on national issues. It was felt, however, that each county might be better going their own way as an Age Friendly County, as each would have to deal with the County Manager and County Council in each county. There was however, a sense that we should keep in touch so as to learn from each other. We felt that Marie Louise and Anne Kavanagh would be keeping in touch with each other. There was also the mention of Community Games for older people.

Sean gave a brief summary of the day and the meeting concluded with Marie Louise and Mai thanking everyone for their attendance and participation.

Sean Kinsella

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Co Wexford Age Equality Network
c/o Wexford Local Development
Mill Park Road
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford