Details of Belfast’s first Age-friendly Plan was unveiled at a special Seniors Convention at Belfast City Hall this week.
Developed by the Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership (HASP), part of the Belfast Strategic Partnership, the Age-friendly Plan is seen as vital to the future of the city because the growth of an older population will have a major impact on its future.
At present almost 19 per cent of the city’s population is aged over 60 years old and the number of those aged over 85 continues to increase.
The Age-friendly plan was developed in consultation with older people across the city and outlines three key themes for future action:
Age-friendly Image – creating a positive view of ageing;
Age-friendly Lives – reducing life inequalities and isolation;
Age-friendly Neighbourhoods – creating friendly places in which to live.
Around 200 older people and other guests attended the convention which was chaired by Claire Keatinge, Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland. Junior Minister from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), Jonathan Bell, also attended the event to look at the wider government strategy on Active Ageing.
Councillor Bernie Kelly, Chair of the council’s all party Reference Group on Older People, said:
‘Belfast was one of the first cities in Ireland to sign the World Health Organisation Declaration on Healthy Ageing.
“It is because of our political determination and the strong interagency partnerships encompassed by HASP and the cooperation of older people that we have succeeded in putting this plan together. It is also through these strong partnerships that we will make the necessary changes to ensure the plan provides real results in our local neighbourhoods.”
Iain Deboys, Belfast Strategic Partnership and chair of the Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership, said:
“We have talked to older people in Belfast about the important things which would improve their lives and help them live life to the full.
“Today’s event highlighted what we will do, how we will do it and the commitment of organisations to make Belfast a more Age-friendly city. We thank all the many contributors to the plan, especially the older people of Belfast who volunteered their time and offered their views and experiences. We would also encourage everyone, of whatever age, in Belfast to work with us on this plan.”
Northern Ireland Junior Minister, Jonathan Bell, spoke on the NI Executive’s Active Ageing Strategy which is currently out for consultation asking that people make their views known about the draft strategy
“The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to meeting the needs of our older population. Our Active Ageing Strategy, currently out for consultation, has the ultimate goal of making Northern Ireland an Age-friendly region.
“We want to build a society where all people, as they get older, are valued and supported to live actively to their fullest potential; with their rights and dignity protected.
“Please let us know your views on the draft strategy and help us build a better future for all our older people.”
Claire Keatinge, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland commended Belfast Strategic Partnership for its leadership and the commitment of older people to helping ensure Belfast becomes an Age-friendly city.
“Partner organisations such as the Housing Executive, Public Health Agency, Health and Social Care Trust, Translink and Business in the Community have all played a key part in joining up the thinking about how to make this great city even better for today’s and tomorrow’s older people,” she added.