Mencap logoA project that aims to offer new opportunities for people with a learning disability aged 55 and over to be more included in the life of their community has been launched by Mencap in Northern Ireland.

Link Me seeks to enhance the wellbeing of older people with a learning disability by providing opportunities for them to take part in social and leisure activities in their local area.

The £500,000 project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run in partnership with Volunteer Now and in association with Omagh and Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Clubs, two Mencap local groups.

Maureen Piggot OBE, director of Mencap in Northern Ireland, said: “We want to celebrate the fact that people with a learning disability are now living longer and have a valuable contribution to make to the life of their local communities.

“By working alongside Volunteer Now and the Gateway Clubs, Link Me will ensure that volunteers with the right training and skills are available so that older people with a learning disability can be more active in their community. This could mean trying out new activities and doing the things they want to do, things that most of us take for granted; such as joining a social club for older people or going to a class in a leisure centre.

“We are also looking forward to exploring with older people’s clubs and other groups ways in which they can increase their confidence and capacity to reach out and include more people with a learning disability in what they do. By developing a new way of working in local communities that can be shared with others and replicated across Northern Ireland, we can lessen the exclusion often felt by older people with a learning disability.”

Hubert Redmond, who is a member of Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Club and helped launch the Link Me project and was also involved in the design of the project logo, said: “I like gardening and cooking and going to the gym sometimes, but I like doing new things too.”

The Link Me project will be looking for volunteers later this year to roll out the project in partnership with Volunteer Now. If you would like to know more about the project, email linkme@mencap.org.uk or visit www.mencap.org.uk/northern-ireland/what-we-do/projects/link-me