DOZENS of older people from across the Fermanagh and Omagh district attended the annual ‘Age Friendly’ conference last Wednesday, March 24, which was held virtually for the first time due to Covid-19 restrictions currently in place.

The conference, organised by the Council in conjunction with South West Age Partnership, with funding from the Public Health Agency, provided the more than 60 people in virtual attendance with the opportunity to hear from a number of speakers on issues relating five steps to wellbeing – keeping well at home.

Welcoming delegates, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong, said: “The Council is committed to establishing a district in which our older people can live active and engaged lives, making a valuable contribution to their communities.

“A core objective of the Fermanagh and Omagh Community Plan 2030, which has been developed by the Council in partnership with other key statutory stakeholders, is to help older people to live more independent, engaged and socially connected lives.

“The events of the past year have demonstrated the need to be more socially connected than ever, particularly for older people.

“I am delighted that today’s conference could be facilitated virtually as it is important for older people to have a platform to voice their concerns to have their needs addressed.”

Also praising the event was Rosemary McMullen, Vice-Chair, South West Area Partnership, who said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to have our say and help shape future services for older people in Fermanagh and Omagh.

“The enthusiasm and engagement today is encouraging – it’s wonderful to see people embracing the new technology and attending this virtual event.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Gerry Farrell, Psychotherapist, Lyceum Counselling and Training, with other speakers including Adele Dunne, Senior Health Improvements Officer, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement West, Public Health Agency, and projects recently delivered by South West Partnership including Mindfulness Stitching with Morag Donald and Lessons from Lockdown with Briege McClean.

The morning session closed with a singalong by renowned local opera singer Andrew Irwin, accompanied by Jim McGrath.

Delegates returned for an interactive afternoon session around shaping Age Friendly after the pandemic.

A conference poll revealed that more than 85% of the delegates felt good or very good about getting older, which given the challenges of the last year was very positive.

In another conference first, all delegates received a conference pack and afternoon tea box delivered by Easilink and Fermanagh Community Transport.