More older people turning to Age Action for support

Charity to continue to highlight ‘negative impact of Government policies ’

Age Action Ireland chief executive Robin Webster said it had been a “difficult year for many older people, especially the majority who are dependent on the State pension and other statutory benefits”. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Age Action Ireland chief executive Robin Webster said it had been a “difficult year for many older people, especially the majority who are dependent on the State pension and other statutory benefits”. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 09:40

An increase in the number of older people needing support and a decline in sponsorship as a result of scandals in other charities made 2013 one of the most difficult years that Age Action Ireland has had, its annual general meeting heard yesterday.

Chief executive Robin Webster said it had been a “difficult year for many older people, especially the majority who are dependent on the State pension and other statutory benefits”.

“The continuing reductions in benefits and services impose even greater pressures on those living alone with little or no family support and those living with disabilities or in poor health.”

He described as “disturbing” the apparent disregard for extra difficulties facing the most poor and ill.

“There seemed to be little understanding of the impact of the abolition of the telephone allowance as a security measure for people who feel isolated or the withdrawal of medical cards as a passport to a range of support services for those who are actually sick.

“These measures not only reduce the quality of life of those directly affected but also increase the anxiety of other people worrying about how they will be able to cope when they need extra support.”

He said the charity would continue through its advocacy work to highlight “the negative impact of Government policies and to put forward alternative policies”. Last year, the report shows, some 289,201 people used the charity’s services, read their publications, visited their website or charity shops or helped with fundraising.

Among these were 22,670 who used Age Action’s “care and repair” visiting DIY and repair service; 3,736 who were taught to use a computer; and 2,311 who used the charity’s information service.

“The annual report shows that 2013 was a very successful year on all fronts except when it comes to funding,” Mr Webster said.

“We need to explore funding opportunities from all sources – public, statutory and public fundraising – to enable us continue with, and expand, our work with older people.”

It was a difficult year for the entire charity sector, he continued, in the wake of controversy at Rehab and the Central Remedial Clinic.

Age Action had a surplus last year of €23,639, down dramatically from €309,945 in 2012. It had an income of €2,376,227 last year, compared with €2,494,798 in 2012.

It spent €2,353,588 in 2013 compared with €2,184,853 in 2012.