Speaking after meeting on Thursday with senior citizens from the Sunshine Club in Ballyholland, Sinn Féin’s Westminster candidate Chris Hazzard commended the work of the group which he said provided a vital social outlet for older people.
Sinn Féin MLA Sinead Ennis & Cllr Oksana McMahon accompanied Chris to the meeting where they engaged with a cross section of older women from the locality to discuss the issues that are affecting them directly.
Mr Hazzard said:
“The Sunshine Club provides an important social outlet for our older citizens and its role within the community cannot be overstated.
“It brings people together to engage in interesting and worthwhile activities and creates a stimulating environment that allows Club attendees the opportunity to engage and socialise with neighbours and friends of a similar age.
“There is no substitute for the type of interaction that goes on in the Sunshine Club, particularly when we consider recent NHS figures that show social isolation and loneliness are associated with the increased risk of death.
“When speaking to people during my visit a number spoke of how the grief they had experienced at the death of a loved was compounded by worry because of the decision by the Tories to cut the Bereavement Grant in early April.
“Concerns were also expressed about what the Tories would do if re-elected and the loss of universal benefits and being forced to pay for social care within the home were causing great distress.”
“These are issues that Sinn Féin will oppose and we are determined to protect our older citizens from cuts that would be devastating for those over the age of 65.
“We believe our elderly citizens should be treated with fairness and dignity in retirement and,” concluded Chris, “I commend the role of the Sunshine Club in the way they bring older people together.”