Jim Shannon MP has given his backing to the Supporting People Campaign on a visit to Abbeyfield House in Newtownards. He was there to see the impact of supported housing in his constituency and to meet with residents and staff.
Abbeyfield House is a supported living development run by Abbeyfield and Wesley Housing Association that provides care and support for seven elderly residents.
Mr Shannon was shown around the scheme by Andrea Denkowski, Abbeyfield House Manager, Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive of Abbeyfield and Wesley, Mary McLeod, Area Manager for Abbeyfield and Wesley, and Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA).
During the visit Mr Shannon met with some of the tenants and received first hand accounts of the benefits of supported living.
Mr Watt spoke about how important Supporting People is to schemes like Abbeyfield House and the necessity to protect and strengthen the fund to meet the needs of an aging population.
The Supporting People programme provides a wide range of support services to help the most vulnerable people in society live as independently as possible. Over 26,000 people in Northern Ireland rely on the fund, including the frail elderly, people with disabilities and homeless people.
Research commissioned by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) estimates that every £1 spent on the £65m Supporting People programme saves the public purse £1.90.
The net benefit of Supporting People for elderly people is even higher, saving the public £2.60 for every £1 spent. These savings are made because the Supporting People fund reduces the demand on other public services such as Health and Social Care.
Jim Shannon, MP, said: “It was a pleasure to visit Abbeyfield House today and meet with some of the residents. It is great to see that the care they receive here not only gives them the support they need but also allows them to be as independent as possible.
“As we look to the future with an increasingly aging population there are going to be greater demands upon supported housing. Places like this are core to how we tackle this issue.
“I’m very impressed with the work of Abbeyfield and Wesley housing association and I hope that we can continue to support places like this that have such a positive impact on the people’s lives.”
Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of NIFHA, said: “Supporting People has been an immense success, enabling thousands of people to sustain their accommodation and live with as much independence as possible through housing support services.
“Visiting projects like Abbeyfield House and seeing firsthand the essential role they fill in supporting those in society who need it most really demonstrates the value of Supporting People.”