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THE ALLIANCE OF AGE SECTOR NGOS CALLS FOR A PROGRAMME OF REMEMBRANCE AND REFLECTION AFTER COVID-19

Published 24/07/2020

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(24 July) The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs - Active Retirement Ireland, Age Action, Age & Opportunity, ALONE, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, Third Age and the Irish Hospice Foundation - welcomes and supports the call by the Irish Hospice Foundation for Government to put in place a process of remembrance and reflection  to recognise those who have died or have lost loved ones in recent months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This call from the Alliance demonstrates that there is broad national support for a series of events to support the loved ones of those who have died and to mark a period of national mourning.

Speaking on behalf of the Alliance, Mairead Hayes, CEO of The Senior Citizens Parliament said, ‘the restrictions on nursing homes visits and funeral gatherings has added to the grief and loss people experienced. As a society we should take a moment to mourn those who have died and to show our support to their loved ones.’

 

The Alliance calls on the Government to support and engage with the Irish Hospice Foundation, families and other stakeholders, to mark what has been a period of great loss and sadness for many people.

 

Also on behalf of the Alliance Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland said, ‘COVID-19 has reminded us all how the death of an older family member, a granny or grandad, is a huge event for many generations in a family. Yet, we don’t talk about death and bereavement in a way that we can understand it, and prepare ourselves for it. It is time that Ireland held a national dialogue on death and bereavement, and how, as a country, we can support people who experience loss.’

 

The Alliance supports the work of the Irish Hospice Foundation who have campaigned for 35 years for a more informed approach to death and bereavement in Ireland. In particular, the Alliance believes that there should be broad political support for;

  • A national series of mourning and remembrance events for all who have died since the pandemic started in order to express our collective connection with the bereaved and to honour, comfort and support
  • Reigniting a national conversation on dying, death and bereavement in Ireland, led by Government, to be followed by an official process to make recommendations and put them into effect.

Aine Brady CEO of Third Age stated, ‘We would hope that the Government will lead out and invite people from the worlds of politics, sport, trade unions, businesses, civil society organisations and people of all faiths and none, in a moment of remembrance of those who have died, and support to those bereaved.’

 

ENDS

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Age Action is calling for a Digital Allowance to support the Digital Inclusion of Older People and a Study on the Cost of Ageing in Budget 2021

(30 July 2020) 

Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation on ageing and older people is calling for Budget 2021 to include a digital allowance in the form of a €2.50 increase to the Telephone Support Allowance and a broadening of the eligibility criteria to support older people to access digital technology.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said ‘Digital exclusion is a reality for at least 33% of people over the age of 65 with the associated cost being one of the barriers to access for older people. We know that communication costs have increased during COVID-19 as people became more reliant on digital communications as a means of communicating with family, health professionals, arranging essential services and addressing social isolation.  In the context of an increasing reliance on telehealth measures and public health advice, Age Action urges the Government to increase the Telephone Support Allowance, introduced in June 2018 at a weekly rate of €2.50, to €5 and for a broadening of the eligibility criteria which is narrowly confined to those getting the Living Alone Allowance who are also eligible for the Fuel Allowance.’

Government services now actively prefer transactions to be digital under a “Digital First”approach, encouraging people to carry out their tax returns, and apply to r enew their driving licences and passports online. The Public Service ICT Strategy prioritises the digitisation of ‘the main existing citizen and business transactional services across Public Services’. There is an increasing reliance on digital channels to provide information by both the public and private sector which undermines people’s ability to access information which was very evident during the height of the pandemic. In a recent CSO survey of households of those over 60 and not online, the second greatest challenge to people who said they needed access to broadband, after lack of digital skills, was the perceived prohibitive cost.

‘Older people are being left behind because they do not have adequate access or skills to engage with digital services or participate in the digital economy; providing a digital allowance as well as investing in one-to-one digital literacy training that meets the needs of older people, is critical to bridging the digital divide. The new National Digital Skills Strategy committed to under the Programme for Government will have budgetary implications; Budget 2021 should begin to support older people to keep up’ Connolly said.