I am pleased and honoured to present the Annual Report and Audited Accounts for 2016 to the members not only as Acting Chief Executive but also as the only member of staff who has worked for Age Action for all 25 years of its existence.
I hope that we can make even more progress in the next 25 years towards realising our vision of Ireland becoming the best country in which to grow older. There is much work to be done in cooperation with other bodies and with people of all ages to achieve this vision.
And we must begin by convincing them that ageing is a lifelong process and if we are lucky we will reach old age as a gift to be treasured rather than the burden to be feared, it is so often presented as being. One recent hopeful sign is that the Citizens’ Assembly will spend two meetings on ageing and we were invited to contribute.
In general, 2016 was another successful year for Age Action but a difficult year for many older people on low fixed incomes struggling to remain at home without adequate home care and other support services.
The information service supported more people and the media coverage of our work increased especially through social media. We were involved in more campaigning with the General Election on a variety of issues including homecare, health, transport and employment.
Largest ever membership
Our membership rose to its highest ever level at 4,513 and our 1,385 volunteers donated an impressive 40,069 hours of service.
Our two largest programmes, Care & Repair and Getting Started continued to support more people and lifelong learning, especially the University of the Third Age expanded. Age Action South and Age Action West both strengthened their regional presence with new offices and charity store.
Our fundraising activities ranged from national raffles to local church collections with the generous support of members and volunteers. In 2017, there are plans to invest in extra staffing to increase the profitability of these activities.
2016 has been a very successful year for the charity stores with new stores opening in Terenure and Ballincollig and an expansion of the stock collection and delivery service with new vans.
There were many organisations and individuals who have helped and supported us during 2016. They all deserve our thanks and I want to highlight three examples.
Since 1994, we have received our core grant from the Health Services Executive (previously the Department of Health and regional Health Boards) and the Department of Social Protection (previously FAS) for our Community Employment Programme.
Both these grants proved vital to our survival and growth. We much appreciate not only their financial support but also the way they have treated us over many years.
The third example is Gordon Snell, the widower of Maeve Binchy, who was an enthusiastic supporter of ours but also personified positive ageing, and Gordon has continued to support us.
I wish to thank Eamon Timmins for all that did for Age Action as Head of Advocacy & Communications and as CEO and to wish him every success in his current role as Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at the Charities Regulatory Authority.
I want to thank Owen O’Sullivan as Chair and the other officers and directors for their support
I want to thank all the staff including the members of the Senior Management Team and the volunteers for their commitment and hard work.
Finally, I want to thank all the members for their kindness and support. It’s been my pleasure and honour to serve you for 25 years.
I now recommend the annual report to the members for their approval