Tulla’s Senior Citizens and Young Actively Retired Group is a longstanding organisation that has provided social gatherings and outings in the locality for older people, particularly those living alone. However, declining numbers attending events has given rise to a call for fresh ideas and new faces.
The group recently had to announce that their annual Hallowe’en event had been cancelled due to the drop in numbers. While the organisation acknowledges they have a great support from a steady group attending events throughout the year, they want to extend an invitation to other older people and friends in the locality to come along and, in doing so, express their ideas for new activities or outings.
Every year the group organises an annual trip to Lahinch, a Christmas party and a Hallowe’en party. Other events organised include a bingo night as well as gatherings with other groups in neighbouring parishes.
For the past 10 years a committee comprising of eight volunteers has run the group. Speaking to The Clare Champion, committee members Jackie Vaughan and Breeda Corry discussed drumming up local support.
“We’d like to start by apologising to those we are disappointing by not having a Hallowe’en get-together this year. We had a get-together earlier this year with roughly 24 people, where before we would have had up to 40,” Jackie explained.
She added that it has been a tough year for the older community and that many are fearful due to the economic crisis but stressed that the group are there “to give them a lift”. “We hate that this is happening and we hate the timing of it,” she added.
The group, which requires no subscription, operates on lottery grants. Each event, which is open to anyone over the age of 55, offers a social outlet to older members in the community, providing them with a chance to catch up with friends and meet new people.
Ninety-year-old Cissie Dewbery outlines what she gets from the organisation. “I like everything about it and I’m so grateful to Jackie, she’s marvellous. If we have afternoon tea, everything is all done for us before we arrive. There are scones on the table and everyone gets a cup of tea. It’s really a fantastic occasion. If it would go, it would be a disaster. I would say to people come along that it’s not expensive and enjoy the evening. I especially enjoy meeting with other people and getting to know them.”
Jackie added, “It’s not just what you get out of it, it’s what you give to others. To me, it’s a great day to visit people, because you’re meeting a lot of people that otherwise you would have to visit their house. You’re having a chat with them, you get them up dancing and, while there, if you have the gift of being able to sing a song or tell a story, the people love that. It’s great in that sense.”
Both Jackie and Breeda agree that what it means to be an older person has changed in recent years, as much more social events are open to the young, actively retired than previously. For this reason, there is a feeling that feedback is needed from older people in the greater Tulla community to ensure that the group remains active and can continue.
“We acknowledge that life is very different for the young, actively retired now, they’re golfing or whatever, and we may not be catering for what their needs are. We have no problem under our insurance and under our umbrella if anyone wants to organise any events they can. So, for instance, if anyone wanted to organise a golf outing, or a break away, under our insurance, any of that is possible,” Jackie added.
It was also highlighted that while not everyone over the age of 55 needs the organisation now, it may become a great outlet in the future and with that in mind the group needs support to survive. Jackie and Breeda would encourage these people to attend maybe one or two of these events in the year.
“Our numbers are dwindling for a reason and if it’s a case that we are not giving them what they want, then we’d like to know what they would like to have,” Breeda said.
The group have stressed that the cancellation of the Hallowe’en event does not mean there is a threat to the Christmas party and it will go ahead as normal. This annual event is held in St Mochulla’s school hall on the first Sunday of December and includes dinner, mass and entertainment from Larry McEvoy and is always a huge success.
For more information about how to get involved or to pass along new ideas and any feedback to the group, contact Jackie Vaughan on 065 6835715 or Bríd Malone on 065 6835440.