Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association has launched a Young Poets competition to officially celebrate 60 years of providing housing and support for older people.
Budding young poets, aged between 8 and 18 years old, from across Northern Ireland are being asked to draw upon their creativity and write a poem about older people. Local songwriter and performer Duke Special will be judging the competition entries.
Abbeyfield provides a range of high quality accommodation and services to older people throughout Northern Ireland, from purpose built apartments, right through to sheltered bungalows and flats, supported sheltered houses and residential care.
The charity’s central ethos is that older people should be enabled to retain links within the local community and that overcoming loneliness and isolation can make a huge difference to an older person’s well being.
Mrs Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive of Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, explains the rationale behind the poetry competition: “In recognition of the role that older people have in our society and to mark Abbeyfield’s 60th anniversary, we are asking local young people to write a poem about older people.
“The poem can capture any aspect of ageing. It could for example be a poem about what it might feel like to be old, or about an older person they know or respect. The poem can be short or long; it can rhyme or it can be prose. It can be moving, serious, funny – it’s entirely up to the young person!”
Mrs Gilpin adds: “We feel it is important for young people to be aware of the issues that older people may have. It is, after all, projected that there will be more people aged 65 and over than children in Northern Ireland from 2028 onwards.
“There are many problems facing older people – loneliness, loss of independence and mobility problems. But it is not all negative, there are many positive aspects – loving grandparents with time to give and the wisdom of age to name just a few.”
The Young Poets competition has three age categories 8-11, 12-14 and 15-18. Each category winner will receive a prize and commendation certificates. There will also be one overall winner selected and he/she will have the honour of reading his/her poem at a special 60th anniversary ceremony being held at Long Gallery, Stormont on Tuesday 18th October 2016. The Rt Hon. Baroness Dean, Abbeyfield Society President, will be present at the event.
Home grown creative genius, Duke Special, is supporting and judging the Young Poets competition. Encouraging young people to explore expressing their creativity through poetry, Duke Special said: “I am delighted to be involved with an organisation like Abbeyfield who recognise the value and potential of people no matter what age they are.
“Like many of us, I have family and friends who are reaching a time in their lives when they need that extra bit of support and care and I’m really pleased that Abbeyfield have organised this poetry competition to highlight and celebrate the role of older people in society.”
Competition entries should be submitted by Friday 30 September 2016 to 60th Anniversary Poetry Competition, Abbeyfield Northern Ireland, 2 Wesley Court, Carrickfergus, BT38 8HS. For further information www.facebook/com/abbeyfieldwesley or www.abbeyfieldandwesley.org.uk
The first Abbeyfield house was established in 1956 by Richard Carr-Gomm who recognised that a lot of older people live alone and feel isolated in their own communities. He wanted to provide them with a safe and secure home where they could find friendship and support.
There are now Abbeyfield houses throughout the world. Abbeyfield has 18 supported sheltered houses across Northern Ireland, offering supported living for elderly people. There are homes in: Ballycastle, Ballyclare, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Donaghadee, Downpatrick, Greenisland, Holywood, Lurgan, Newtownabbey, Newtownards and Portstewart.
Abbeyfield also runs a residential care home in East Belfast, three sheltered schemes in Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, and Belfast. For further information www.abbeyfieldandwesley.org.uk