Age Action had the busiest year in its 21 year history in 2013, providing direct support for thousands of older people as the Government’s austerity measures continued to hit the sickest and poorest, the charity’s annual meeting was told in Dublin today.
“As we marked our ‘coming of age’ anniversary it was clear there has never been a greater need for the work being done by our staff, volunteers and members across Ireland,” Age Action chief executive Robin Webster said.
“It was a very difficult year, especially for the majority of older people who are dependent on the state pension and other statutory benefits,” he said. “The continuing reductions in benefits and services impose even greater pressures on those living alone, with little or no family support, and those with disability or in poor health.”
The Government’s apparent disregard, when reducing public expenditure, for the extra difficulties facing the poorest and sickest of all ages was “disturbing” Mr Webster said. Pointing to the abolition of the phone allowance for older people, he said there seemed to be little understanding of the importance of the phone as a security measure. Similarly, there was inadequate recognition with the withdrawal of Medical Cards that such cards acted as passports for a range of services needed by people who were sick.
During 2013, a total of 289,201 people used Age Action’s services, read their publications, visited their website or charity shops or helped with fundraising. These numbers include the 22,670 who used Age Action’s Care and Repair home visitation and DIY service. It also includes 3,736 older people who were taught to use a computer and the 2,311 people 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.”
2013 was a difficult year for the charity sector in Ireland, in the wake of controversy at Rehab and the Central Redmedial Clinic. Age Action welcomes the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority and looks forward to working with it.
“The board of Age Action is fully committed to improving our corporate governance, not simply to comply with the minimal regulations, but to achieve the highest standards of best practice,” Mr Webster said. “We want all members to be proud of belonging to Age Action and all donors, whether public or private, to be confident that their money is spent wisely and well.”
Following the acceptance at the AGM, the 2013 annual report has been published and is available athttp://www.ageaction.ie/sites/default/files/pdf/Age%20Action%20AR%202013%20FINAL.pdf
Mr Webster encouraged members to read it to get a full picture of how the charity is being run and the impact it is making .