First meeting of the Loneliness Taskforce takes place

PRESS RELEASE

Over 300 submissions received as Taskforce coordinates a response to loneliness in Ireland

Dublin, 9th May 2018: The Loneliness Taskforce has had its first meeting today in Leinster House.

The Loneliness Taskforce was established by Dr. Keith Swanick in collaboration with the CEO of ALONE, Seán Moynihan, to coordinate a response to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland. Through its work, the Loneliness Taskforce is seeking to increase awareness about the issue and to produce a set of recommendations for Government, state agencies and all policy makers.

Over 300 submissions have been received by the Taskforce sent from the general public, Oireachtas and Northern Ireland Assembly Members, MEPs, NGOs, Local Authorities, Public Participation Networks, and Volunteer Networks across the country, both North and South. The establishment of the Taskforce has created a much-needed national conversation on the loneliness and social isolation faced by people in Ireland.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “We have been overwhelmed at the level of interest and support the Taskforce has received from all over the country, and particularly the huge number of people who have offered their help.”

Moynihan continued, “We look forward to making progress with our report and presenting it to the Government, and we hope that meaningful action is taken as a result. Loneliness is not something to be brushed off – it is a public health issue, one that needs serious consideration.”

Chairperson of the Loneliness Taskforce, Dr Keith Swanick said, “As a GP, in my practice in rural Ireland, I often see the profound medical and mental health problems which are often exacerbated by loneliness. I am well aware however, that Loneliness crosses the rural-urban divide and I witnessed the same problems a number of years ago as a GP in the heart of Finglas.”

He continued, “Through the submissions we have received, the Taskforce has heard from people who are young, new parents, those who are divorced or a single parent, from people with disabilities, returning emigrants, home carers and entrepreneurs. We can say with certainty that loneliness never discriminates between young and old, rich and poor or urban and rural.”

The Loneliness Taskforce includes members from the education, sporting, nursing, psychology, business and academic sectors. It is hoped that the Taskforce will release their report with recommendations for Government, state agencies and all policy makers in the summer.

 

ENDS

 

About ALONE

Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

 

For more information contact:

Lauren Freir, Limelight Communications, Lauren.freir@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 087 238 0853

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600

 

ALONE welcomes announcement of €15 million funding for Housing with Support Demonstrator Project

PRESS RELEASE

Charity also welcomes increase in funding for the Housing Adaptation Grant

Dublin, 4th May 2018: ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has welcomed Minister Damien English’s announcement of €15 million funding for the Housing with Support Demonstrator Project today. The project is being developed by ALONE and Circle VHA with support from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department of Health, Dublin City Council and the HSE.

The Minister’s comments came at today’s launch of the Evaluation of Phase One of the Demonstrator Project under the Rebuilding Ireland programme in the Mansion House, Dublin, in the presence of the Lord Mayor.

It is planned that Circle will build 52 units of age-friendly homes in Inchicore, Dublin 8, and ALONE will provide support to the tenants and older people in the surrounding area. It is hoped that the Housing with Support Model will be replicated by agencies all over the country.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said “ALONE is proud to be working on this groundbreaking Demonstrator Project to introduce the Housing with Support Model to Ireland. There is an urgent need to develop and provide practical housing choices for older people living in Ireland who may have support requirements, and whose needs may change as they age. The Housing with Support Model, to be built in Inchicore, will provide 52 age-friendly homes for older people requiring various levels of support.”

Moynihan added, “We are looking forward to developing the Housing with Support Model and are delighted that in the coming years, ALONE and Circle VHA will be working together to offer a new choice of housing which is replicable, scalable, and most of all, desirable, for older people in Ireland.”

ALONE also welcomed the 11% increase in funding for the Housing Adaptation Grant which was announced by the Minister at the meeting.

“We welcome the fact that this is a double digit increase in funding. From our work on the ground, we know that the demand for Housing Adaptation Grants is high and the system is complex. We will work with the Minister and Department of Housing over the coming years to bring this to a demand-led model, one which is accessible and straightforward,” Moynihan said.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Micheál Mac Donncha, also supported the important progress made with the Housing with Support Model. Recognising the growing issue surrounding housing for older people in Ireland, the Lord Mayor cited that a doubling of those aged over-65, and quadrupling of those over 80 is expecting by 2045.

“I believe this project will act as a model that other housing providers can replicate. I look forward to seeing the results of this unique and positive development, which I believe will set a new standard for the future of housing provision for older persons in Ireland,” he said.

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or at www.alone.ie. The charity, which depends on donations from the public, has staff and volunteers ready to act on calls and requests for assistance.

 

ENDS

About ALONE

Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year. 

For more information contact:

Lauren Freir, Limelight Communications, lauren.freir@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 087 238 0853

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie , 01 668 0600

€3.5 million in state housing funding awarded to ALONE

PRESS RELEASE

Charity acquire 16 new homes in Dublin 8 to house older people

Dublin, 26 April 2018: ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has acquired sixteen units to house older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The units were bought by ALONE using funding made available by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government through Dublin City Council (DCC), combined with loan finance advanced by the Housing Finance Agency (HFA). The purchase of the units is part of the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland action plan. ALONE will now renovate these homes to an age-friendly standard with assistance from Community Finance Ireland (CFI).

This is the biggest ever acquisition of new property by ALONE.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said: “None of this would have been possible without the assistance of the Department of Housing, the HFA, DCC and CFI. We would like to sincerely thank them for their assistance with this project.”

We are delighted that we will be able to offer these soon-to-be renovated homes to older people who have housing needs. When the new tenants move in this summer they will have a home of their own, with their own front door and a life-long tenancy. And ALONE will be there to support them all the way.”

Moynihan also drew attention to the developing housing crisis among older people. “While this will make a huge difference in the lives of the older people who move into these homes, we also recognise that we must compare this to the number of older people who have housing difficulties. There are almost 200 people on ALONE’s waiting list for housing.”

At a recent ALONE property allocation, the charity had to make the difficult decision of choosing one person who was in most need of housing to offer the home to. Just one person of the 24 people aged over 60 who wanted the property could be offered it.

Moynihan believes that with continued expansion, ALONE will be able to deliver more housing for older people in need. “Over the next five years, we plan to more than double the number of our housing units so that we can continue to support the growing numbers of older people who have housing difficulties. These homes in Dublin 8 are a fantastic addition and will help in our mission for every older person in Ireland to age happily and securely in their own home.”

He added once more his appreciation to the state agencies and staff who worked so hard and were so supportive of ALONE to achieve this result. “We hope that we can all continue to work together to make sure that no older person is left without a home.”

Barry O’ Leary, CEO of the HFA said, “We are delighted to collaborate with ALONE to fund the purchase of these new homes for older people. Our low cost finance has enabled the delivery of these age friendly homes which offer older people peace of mind and security for the remainder of their lives.”

“This integrated approach of housing bodies and organisations is essential for the proper development of further housing for older people. We look forward to seeing the newly renovated units which will offer older people a secure, age-friendly home and community.”

This announcement comes during the charity’s housing campaign ‘How will you pay the rent when you retire?’ which calls on the government to provide funding towards developing new, age-friendly models of housing to reflect the needs of an ageing Ireland.

 

ENDS

 

About ALONE

Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week.  ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

For more information contact:

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 085 233 6033

Lauren Freir, Limelight Communications, lauren.freir@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 087 238 0853

How will you pay rent when you retire? Vincent Browne launches ALONE housing campaign

PRESS RELEASE

Dublin, 27th March 2018 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the hidden housing crisis among older people. The organisation is calling on the Government to provide funding towards developing a new, age-friendly model of housing and to update Rebuilding Ireland to reflect the needs of an ageing Ireland.

At the launch of the campaign, former broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne urged the government to prioritise housing for older people, “I am here today to support ALONE as they work to prevent the housing crisis faced by older people from becoming a homelessness crisis. With the number of over 65s set to increase dramatically in the next couple of decades, the situation for older people trying to secure rented and lifetime accommodation is set to get worse!”

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “As people age, they can often no longer afford to rent. Rents are currently exceeding their former peak in 2008.  The contributory state pension is €1,032.63 per month, but average market rent in Ireland is €1,227[1]. At the moment, an older person relying on their contributory pension can’t afford to rent a home. There is an assumption within the pensions system that older people do not need to rent or do not have accommodation costs, yet in 2016, there were 15,883 people over 60 in the private rental sector.”

ALONE’s campaign also highlights the falling rates of home ownership in Ireland which will impact the housing crisis further as the population ages. In 2016 there were 876,423 people aged over 60 living in Ireland. By 2031 it is estimated that this will grow to 1.42 million. ALONE believes that the problems older people face in obtaining rented and lifetime accommodation will only get worse unless action is taken.

Moynihan continued, “The housing crisis will only get worse as our population ages. The current generation can’t buy homes, but if nothing changes, huge numbers won’t be able to afford to rent as they age either. The private rental market is not suitable long-term for older people. Rented properties offer little security of tenancy and, in the current competitive rental market, we have heard from older people who are afraid to tell their landlord about issues with their accommodation in case their rent is increased. For most people when they retire, they lose 60% of their income.The thousands of older people who retire every year in private rented accommodation face a very uncertain future.”

ALONE works every day with older people who are losing their homes in the private rented sector, whose homes are unsuitable for them to live in, or who are homelesss. “We have begun to find occasions where we can’t provide a solution to some of the housing problems older people face, because appropriate rental accommodation and social housing is not available. From late 2015 to early 2018 the number of housing applications received by ALONE more than doubled. ALONE receive 20 applications for every house available, and there are 174 people currently on our waiting list. In terms of housing, our resources are stretched to maximum capacity,” said Moynihan.

Moynihan concluded, “We are calling on the Government to engage with ALONE and its partners in the Age Alliance to meet the commitments outlined in the National Positive Ageing Strategy since 2013, and to update Rebuilding Ireland to reflect the needs of an ageing Ireland. If nothing changes, the housing crisis is only going to get worse for older people. We need to act now to prevent a homelessness crisis among the over-60s, now and in the years to come.”

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or visit www.alone.ie.

 

ENDS

About ALONE

Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

For more information contact:

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 085 233 6033

Maree Rigney, Limelight Communications, maree.rigney@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 086 358 7153

[1] https://www.daft.ie/report/2017-Q4-rental-price-daft-report.pdf

Befriending Network Ireland 2018 training dates

We’re delighted to announce the dates for our Befriending Network Ireland training sessions for 2018.

New: Service Set-up Basics Training

Befriending Network Ireland is delighted to introduce this new form of training for those who are in the process of setting-up a befriending network. In this training you’ll go through the core areas involved in setting up a service, including identifying a target group, geographic area coverage, naming your service, logo & branding, staffing structure, policies, sustainability, IT set-up, insurance and Garda vetting. It involves a full day of training in Dublin and the cost of the training is €30 per attendee. The training dates for this year are as follows:

Date and time: 30 March 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 15 June 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 24 August 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 26 October 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Venue: ALONE Office, Olympic House, Pleasants Street, Dublin 8

 

Befriending Coordination Training

Befriending Coordination Training covers all aspects of coordinating a befriending service. This training is ideal for services starting up, as well as services that are up and running and would like a refresher or advice on certain aspects of running their service. Topics covered include befriender recruitment, boundaries, referrals, assessments, matching, supporting befriendees and befrienders, risk management and data management. It involves a full day of training in Dublin and the cost of the training is €30 per attendee. The training dates for this year are as follows:

Date and time: 6 April 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 29 June 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 14 September 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 16 November 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Venue: ALONE Office, Olympic House, Pleasants Street, Dublin 8

 

Support and Case Management Training

This training is designed for services who are interested in setting up a service to address other needs that there service users may have outside of befriending or another core service that is already provided. The training is modelled on the Support Coordination service that ALONE provides to older people and covers areas such as brief interventions, comprehensive interventions, case management and advocacy. It involves a full day of training in Dublin and the cost is €30 per attendee. The training dates for this year are as follows:

Date and time: 27 April 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 22 June 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Date and time: 30 November 2018, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Venue: ALONE Office, Olympic House, Pleasants Street, Dublin 8

 If you are interested in attending any of these training sessions please email caroline.muller@alone.ie or call ALONE on 01-6791032.

VHI Mini Marathon in aid of ALONE

Registration for the VHI Mini Marathon is now open!

We are looking for people to take part in the VHI Mini Marathon in aid of ALONE.

This year the marathon takes place on Sunday, 3rd of June at 2pm. The 10km walk/run will start at Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2 and finish on Pembroke road.

To take part in the event, register at https://www.vhiwomensminimarathon.ie/ and email Fundraising@alone.ie to let us know your registered. That way we can send you out your sponsor cards and T-shirts!

Check out our video below, where Amy explains how she got involved in the VHI Mini Marathon, why she choose ALONE and how she sponsors.

 

Day 2 of Storm Emma: Advice for older people in ongoing cold weather

A red weather warning remains in place for Leinster, Munster and Galway. This means you should not travel or go out on the roads.

Make sure to keep yourself safe if you are helping others. If you have an emergency, contact 999. For any other concerns, you can contact ALONE from 9am-9pm on 01 679 1032.

If you or an older person you know need to stay safe:

  • Stay inside until the bad weather passes.
  • Keep windows locked and pets inside.
  • Stay warm and keep the heating on as much as necessary. Electricity suppliers are confirming that pay as you go customers will not be cut off if they don’t top up.
  • Keep in touch with family members, friends and neighbours.
  • Keep in contact through radio, TV and the internet for updates.
  • Be prepared for power outages over the coming days as the bad weather continues.
  • Charge your mobile phone or any other devices you may need in case you lose power.
  • If you do not already have torches or matches, try to make do with what you have. Do not go out to get supplies.
  • Keep important supplies, like torches, in easy-to-reach places.

If you’ve lost power/heating:

  • Don’t panic. ESB will be aware of the outages in your area and will be in touch.
  • Consider whether you’re at risk. You may have enough heating/blankets etc to get by until the worst of the weather has passed.
  • Stick to using torches if possible. Burn candles responsibly and do not leave them unattended.
  • Call service providers, plumbers, or any other assistance you might need, or ask someone you know to call for you. Get advice on a temporary solution over the phone if immediate assistance isn’t possible.
  • If there is an imminent risk, call emergency services. For power emergencies call 1850 372 999.

If you have concerns about food:

  • Consider whether you’re at risk. You may have enough supplies to get by until the worst weather has passed.
  • Remember that the situation will pass.
  • Contact family, friends or neighbours close by that can help.
  • Check if there are local supports, such as shops, that are open. Someone nearby may be able to get or organise supplies to be brought to you.

If you’ve run out of essential medication:

  • Consider whether you’re at risk. You may have enough medication to get by.
  • Remember that the situation will pass.
  • Check if there are local supports such as a doctor or a pharmacist. Get advice on a temporary solution over the phone if immediate assistance isn’t available.
  • If you need essential medication urgently, or are in danger, call emergency services – 999.

Advice for older people in cold weather

Ahead of Storm Emma and the bad weather forecast for this week, we have compiled a list of tips for older people on how to prepare and cope. Please share this advice with anyone who may be in need of it. For older people, cold weather can be more than just an inconvenience.

Advice for older people in cold weather

Staying well and warm:

  • Eat hot meals regularly and drink plenty of fluids. This will keep you warm.
  • Have enough fuel supplies to keep your house warm. Spending your money on heating is a priority for you: keep your heating on all day.
  • Keep as active as possible. If you can, do some light exercise indoors.
  • Make sure you have enough of any medication you need for a week. If you need medication, call your pharmacist.
  • Check you have enough food, water and fuel.
  • Ask family, friends and neighbours for help if you need it.
  • Make sure you have enough credit on your mobile phone.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: alcoholic drinks can make you lose body heat.
  • Make sure your heating system is working (that is, central heating, gas, electricity).
  • To save on heating bills, close off rooms you are not using.
  • Make sure your house isn’t losing heat through windows. Keep your blinds and curtains closed.

Staying safe:

  • Avoid all unnecessary travel.
  • Write down important contact numbers and keep them beside your phone. Don’t forget emergency numbers: 999 or 112.
  • Emergency SMS number: 112. If you are hard of hearing, deaf or have speech difficulties, in an emergency send a text to 112. They will contact the Gardaí for you.

Clothing:

  • Wear well-fitted shoes with non-slip soles if you have to leave the house. Take these off as soon as you get inside so that you don’t trip.
  • Dress warmly even if you are staying in the house. Throw a blanket over your legs. Wear socks and slippers.
  • When you go to bed, use extra blankets.
  • Avoid being out in the wind; a wind can quickly lower your body temperature.
  • Wear loose layers of clothing. The air between the layers can help to keep you warm.
  • Wear a hat and scarf.
  • Change your clothes if they get damp or wet.

Advice for friends or relatives of older people in cold weather

  • Call up your older friend daily to ensure they are feeling okay. If possible, check in on them before bad weather hits.
  • Ask whether they need assistance with getting food, fuel, or water supplies.

General information:

  • For information on public transport, check www.dublinbus.ie (01 8734222), www.irishrail.ie (01 8366222), www.luas.ie (01 4614911) and www.buseireann.ie (1850 836 611).
  • For information on power outages, check www.esbpowercheck.ie. Phone 1850 372 999 to report outages.
  • For information about road conditions, check the three websites of Transport Infrastructure Ireland at www.tii.ie, www.tiitraffic.ie and www.winterready.ie.
  • For further tips and details about how you can prepare for the cold weather, check www.winterready.ie
  • Keep up to date with www.alone.ie. Call ALONE at 01 6791032 if you’re in need of assistance.

JCDecaux announces partnership with ALONE

We are thrilled to announce that we are part of a €2 million partnership deal with JCDecaux which will see the outdoor advertising media owner supporting our work with older people for the next two years.

The partnership will help our work jc-decaux-picin raising awareness and driving fundraising to support older people to age at home.

 Seán Moynihan, Chief Executive of ALONE said, “Working with JCDecaux, we have a very effective platform to highlight policy issues and raise awareness on the issues facing older people.  We are able to reach older people and encourage them to contact us for support, as well as attract volunteers and support from across the country.”

The two year partnership which commenced this January, will see JC Decaux working with ALONE as well as two other partner charities, Barnados and Fighting Blindness.

Tony O’Flanagan, Marketing Director of JCDecaux said, “We are very pleased to be in a position to partner with these three exceptionally worthy charities in 2018/2019.  We are looking forward to using our formats to increase awareness on a national basis of the key issues facing each charity.”

 

ALONE: “The solution to loneliness lies in community supports and services”

ALONE responds to appointment of Minister for Loneliness in Britain.

Dublin, 19th January 2018  Following Britain’s appointment of a ‘Minister for Loneliness’ this week, ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has said that the solution to loneliness lies in scalable and collaborative community supports and services.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “As an organisation that works with older people, we see firsthand the effects of loneliness. 1 in 10 older people suffer from chronic loneliness[1] and I don’t think that people are aware just how devastating loneliness can be for your general health. As we enter the winter, calls for support dramatically increase and loneliness is one of the main issues that older people in Ireland are facing today.”

He continued, “While we welcome a renewed focus on how to address loneliness and social isolation, we believe the answer lies in continued collaboration between the community and voluntary sector and statutory bodies to address this important issue and not necessarily the creation of a new ministerial position. By working closely together, we can provide services that help people who are experiencing loneliness.”

ALONE’s Befriending Service provides companionship to older people who are socially isolated or experiencing through a weekly volunteer visit as well as a range of social events. In 2016, 4,500 people were supported by befriending services nationwide, an increase of 42%. The charity aims to grow the Befriending service from 600 to 10,000 volunteers in next 5 years.

ALONE also provides Supportive Coordination services to older people and was recently awarded the overall HSE Excellence Award for its innovative Support Coordination hub development for older people in Dublin North city and county.

The ‘Innovative Support Coordination for Older Persons’ is a joint project between ALONE and the HSE which aims to keep older people living well at home for as long as possible. By co-ordinating and organising services for older people who might need some extra support to continue living at home or some practical help to return home from hospital, the two organisations have, to date, supported over 700 older people in Dublin North city and county.  The plan is to develop and grow this service nationwide, and by 2022, the service will support 20,000 older people directly and 14,000 indirectly.

 

ENDS

 

About ALONE

Established in 1977, ALONE is an independent charity that supports vulnerable older people to age at home.  We work with those who have issues with social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  We provide Supportive Coordination, Befriending, Supportive Housing and Campaigning services to hundreds of older people every week.  We receive no Government funding for our day-to-day activities so we rely solely on the generosity of the public to continue our work.  ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

 

For more information contact:

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 085 233 6033

Maree Rigney, Limelight Communications, maree.rigney@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 086 358 7153

[1]AGE  UK, Promising approaches to reducing loneliness and isolation in later life, http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/For-professionals/Policy/Promising_approaches-loneliness_and_isolation.pdf?dtrk=true