With the abuse of older people rising from already unacceptable levels during the recent lockdowns – Northern Ireland’s only dedicated safer ageing and elder abuse charity is announcing a new Community Response Hub to work with victims and their families.
Hourglass NI’s Hub, based in Newry, will be Northern Ireland’s only elder abuse-focused service and will act as lifeline for victims, their families, practitioners and partner charities who support older people. It will be Hourglass’s second hub after launching in Fife, Scotland, last summer.
The team will provide advice, undertake casework, instigate pop-up clinics across the country and work hand-in-hand with other agencies to raise the profile of the abuse of older people and safer ageing. The service will complement the existing Helpline available on 0808 8088 141.
1 in 5 UK residents (22 percent) have personal experience of abuse as an older person or know someone who has been abused - with almost 2.7 million victims thought to be affected across the UK*. Recent research conducted by the charity in Northern Ireland found that over half (55 percent) of those surveyed believe that the abuse and neglect of older people has increased as a result of the pandemic restrictions.**
The charity’s new community response model allows for more impactful interventions against the abuse of older people. However, attitudes regarding what ‘counts’ as abuse are thought to be fuelling the crisis. Hourglass polling** revealed that nearly a quarter (23 percent) of NI residents don’t believe that ‘acts of domestic violence directed towards an older person’ count as abuse. 2 in 5 of all those surveyed in NI reported that ‘not attending to an older person’s needs in a timely fashion’ doesn’t constitute abuse (41 percent), while 1 in 3 believe that inappropriate sexual acts directed at older people is not abusive.
Hourglass CEO Richard Robinson says: “Abuse of older people is a very real issue all over the country, and sadly Northern Ireland is no exception. Our community-based work will allow us to create an end-to-end model that is desperately needed - from prevention and early intervention, right through to recovery and moving on from abuse.
“Everybody should be able to grow older safely and away from abuse and neglect. We want everyone in Northern Ireland to be able to recognise abuse and feel confident in how to help their loved ones or people in their care to have access to the resources and support they need.”
Geoff, from Northern Ireland, was thankful to have support from Hourglass when his mother was a victim of financial abuse by another relative. You can watch his story below
The community hub is a secure respite for anyone who is anxious about the safety or welfare of an older person or themselves. Specialist teams are in place to support local communities in understanding the different forms of abuse and what to do if you or someone you know or care about has been a victim.
As part of the Community Hub roll out, Hourglass will be seeking volunteers to train and join their team, whilst also building strategic partnerships throughout Northern Ireland to support and fund projects that will benefit the community, end abuse and promote safer ageing.
The new community hub is part of Hourglass’s commitment to battling the abuse of older people in Northern Ireland. As the charity more than doubles its team and increases its service delivery, Hourglass calls on Stormont to show its commitment to protecting all older people in Northern Ireland.