A pioneering project, which aims to give older people in Donegal a greater voice, has been launched.
The Hearing Other People Experiences (HOPE) Project, was officially launched at the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey by Dinny McGinley TD, Minister of State, Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.
Devised and promoted by The Voice of Older People, Donegal, the HOPE project is about strengthening and consolidating the disparate and fragmented voices of older people from all traditions throughout Donegal.
The project, which is mostly funded by the International Fund for Ireland, aims to empower the older people (60+) of Donegal.
It plans to identify the issues which have impacted upon and affected their quality of life as a result of the legacy of conflict and to support them in identifying, developing and implementing appropriate responses that break the culture of sectarianism.
The International Fund for Ireland is contributing €165,300 towards the two year HOPE project as part of its Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme.
Through the use of creative engagement, the project will deliver four distinct programme elements for older people from all traditions throughout Donegal, including cross-community workshops; a training course in cross-community history and genealogy; a story sharing programme and involvement in the publishing of the ‘Joint Pan –Celtic HOPE Publication’.
Speaking at the official launch event of the HOPE project, Dinny McGinley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht said: “I am delighted to be here today to launch the HOPE project.
“This project, will bring together people from all parts of the community providing an invaluable record of the personal and very real experiences of older people and how their lives unfolded while living in this region. I’m confident that this project will leave a worthy legacy for the future.”
Speaking on behalf of the International Fund for Ireland, Paddy Harte, Senior Development Officer with the IFI said: “I would like to commend the Voice of Older People group for their hard work and commitment to work together. The IFI is delighted to support this important cross-community project.
“Over the next two years, many individuals will engage with this project, and I am sure it will have a huge impact in our communities. Those participants will take what they have learned and bring it back, to their families and to the wider community. It will leave a lasting legacy for reconciliation across County Donegal.”
Mr Harte also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for almost twenty-five years: namely, the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking on behalf of The Voice of Older People, Donegal, John McGlinchey, Chairperson of the group said: “I acknowledge the tremendous support that the International Fund for Ireland has afforded the Voice of Older People, Donegal.
“This support has enabled the HOPE project to develop from an idea to a concrete tangible reality. The project will provide a solid platform from which the voices of older people from all traditions throughout the County can and will be articulated.”
The official launch event was held at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey and was attended by over 50 guests, including a wide range of local representatives, community groups and voluntary organisations representing traditions throughout the region.