Senior Citizens’ Forum helps older people ‘Get Out There’

Robert McQuiston. INNT 17-020-PSB
Robert McQuiston. INNT 17-020-PSB
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Newtownabbey Senior Citizens’ Forum has launched a new range of activities in order to help boost the health and well-being of the over 50s.

Recently the group received funding from the Big Lottery Fund for its ‘Getting Out There’ programme.

The project addresses the needs of and issues around health and wellbeing for older people in Newtownabbey, in particular those men and women over 50 living in residential and sheltered accommodation.

Belfast man Robert McQuiston has been appointed the project’s coordinator.

He said: “There is a wide range of events planned and ongoing to suit people of all needs and abilities.

“We have walking groups, digital photography, a history and industrial heritage programme, indoor bowling, tai chi, line dancing, family history projects and so much more, the list is endless.

“The activities are designed for all ages and all abilities and people have been taking to them very well.

“On the digital photography course people have been saying to me how much they have been getting out and the difference it has made to their lives. It’s small things that can make a big difference to people.

“The programmes are designed to engage with people and to help them interact with others, which can and does go a long way to boosting their mental and physical health.

“Our walking group has really proved popular with people. We have a men only session each week and it really helps get people out of their homes and socialising with people.

“We find that people talk to each other during our activities and that helps grow interest in our other programmes. So many people have said they would never had thought to sign up to something, only to really be thankful they did in the end.

Belfast man Robert (51) has worked with various community projects for the past 22 years.

He said: “I have loved every minute of it. You get so much out of it.

“One project I was involved with was showing older people in homes the streets they used to live on through the Google Earth programme.

“One woman asked if she could see her son’s house in America and when I showed her on the computer her face just lit up.

“That to me makes the job so worthwhile and I would not change it for the world.”

Robert started work with the Newtownabbey Senior Citizens’ Forum at the start of the year. He said he has been surprised at the community’s involvement with the organisation.

He added: “There is a real vibrant drive for it to do well. We have meetings where 50 or 60 people attend and that, to me, is unheard of.

“There is a real strong leadership in place and they are doing a fantastic job for all the older people of Newtownabbey.”

To find out more about the group’s many activities and to sign up contact Robert on 9083 8848.