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Connecting with Age Concern Havelock North

With nearly 30 years of working with the community under its belt, Age Concern Havelock North continues to come up with new ways to support older residents and help them connect.

Two of its most recent initiatives, both in their fourth year, are the Next Steps Lifestyle Expo and the Community Christmas Day Luncheon.

Both were a resounding a success this financial year, with plans now underway for the 2018 functions.

Hastings District Council again supported the two events, granting $12,986 towards the running of them. The money comes from Council’s Contestable Grants Fund which is distributed annually to groups developing or delivering a community service or project which fits with Council’s aim of “building a safe, liveable, sustainable community”. Council is profiling successful applicants from the 2017/18 grants round.

The most recent Christmas lunch had nearly double the number of guests as the previous year, hosting 200, the maximum number the volunteers were able to cope with.

Age Concern Havelock North chairman Wayne Bradshaw said loneliness had been pinpointed by Age Concern New Zealand as an increasing problem as people aged. Research found that while the majority of older people were not severely lonely, about half of older New Zealanders experienced some level of loneliness.

“Christmas can be one of those times when being alone can be particularly difficult so we offer a space where people on their own can have a wonderful meal and companionship at this special time of year,” Mr Bradshaw said.

The latest expo had also been “amazingly successful”, said Mr Bradshaw. “Bringing together a whole range of services and products that may be of use to the over 60s has proved very popular. It really opens up people’s eyes to what is available.

“There are a range of connections made at the events; between retailers and service providers, and between those visiting the expo. It adds another opportunity to encourage connectivity to all the other work we do.”

According to Statistics NZ, more than 14 per cent of the New Zealand population is aged over 65 with the proportion expected to grow to about 23 per cent by 2043, from about 700,000 now to 1.4 million. “That is a considerable number of people, of whom many will be very active and looking for life-enhancing experiences, and others who will be looking for ways to make their lives easier. Events like our Next Steps Expo are going to become even more important,” Mr Bradshaw said.

Council’s social and cultural development committee chairman Malcolm Dixon said the community input by

organisations such as Age Concern Havelock North is very valuable. “It is not possible for Government or local councils to cover the level and range of needs that every community has. Having Age Concern focused on the specific needs of our older residents is a contribution to our society that is invaluable. Council is very pleased to be able to help through the Contestable Grants fund.”

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