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This paper provides and evaluation of the Turkington Fund small grant programme, a fund brought under the banner of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland during 2006 offering grants to older people's projects across Northern Ireland with an emphasis on healthy, active ageing and well-being. Between 2007 and 2011, £368,094 worth of grant funding was given to 324 older people’s projects across Northern Ireland. The guiding principles for the Turkington Fund and its evaluation were drawn up by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and aimed to examine the extent of: older people’s involvement in decision making and project management; networking, engagement and joint working with other groups and agencies; innovative approaches, new activities and initiatives which stretch participants; shared concerns and themes across groups of older people; and activities focusing on the contribution of older people and those which enhance and empower them to influence decision making through lobbying. The key themes that emerged from the evaluation included that: by providing support and helping keep older people physically and mentally healthy, group activities save money for health and social services; with small grant support, it is possible to bring in expertise to vary a group’s programme and stimulate interest; and through the projects funded older people are enabled and empowered to continue to contribute to society, to take up new interests and learn new skills. The recommendations of the evaluation include: that a clear lead government department be identified to handle older people’s issues; that government support agencies provide ongoing sources of small, core grants to enable essential preventative work to continue; and, in view of the increase in the proportion of older people amongst the population, government departments and policy makers must take the particular needs of this age group into account when formulating policy.
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