Voice of Older People to close in July due to funding cuts

Voice of Older People to close in July due to funding cuts
The Voice of Older People’s two-person staff are preparing to close their office in July

The Voice of Older People’s two-person staff are preparing to close their office in July

“We’re cancelling phone lines and doing that sort of mopping up,” Mark McCollum, project coordinator, said this week. He said he and administrator Barbara Barnett had known for a while this day would come. “We could see it coming down the tracks because there was no funding coming down the line.

“It’s been a bit disconcerting, to say the least,” Mark said.

The aim of Voice of Older People, based in Volt House in Raphoe, was to develop a strong network of groups and organisations that work for older people throughout the county, and they have also been a public voice on issues that affect older people’s health and quality of life.

They also secured funding for and led a number of initiatives involving older people, and the Raphoe office has served as a signpost for those seeking services for older people. Mark said developments in the nursing home, home help and hospital sectors have increased the demand for that work.

He said the organisation will continue to exist but without funding to run staff or an office.

The Voice of Older People is launching a DVD the first week in July at the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey, part of the International Fund for Ireland-supported Hope project. The project collected stories and voices from around the county, sharing recollections of life in Donegal over the years.

“It’s sort of our swan song,” Mark said. He called the DVD, “a nice thing to go out on”.

The news of The Voice of Older People closure follows the announcement in May that the national advocacy group, Older and Bolder, will close June 30th because the grant funding they received from Atlantic Philanthropies was coming to an end.

“It’s not just us,” Mark said, citing a report that showed the community and voluntary sector in this region is facing a 50 million euro deficit this year. “That’s a lot of projects that are going to hit the wall,” he said.

Mark said the Donegal group’s lobbying positions came from concerns raised by older people in Donegal, such as the availability and cost of nursing home care, cuts in home help hours and other issues.

“Maybe they aren’t on the front pages of papers, but the same issues are still there,” Mark said. Voice of Older People’s independence also gave them the freedom to speak out, he said.

“We spoke out on numerous issues,” he said.