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SLW: Elderly care through neighbourhood networks of paramount importance (with photos)

     The Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Elderly Commission have jointly launched the two-year "Pilot Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project - Caring for Elders" in 18 districts to promote respect and care for the elderly through neighbourhood networks.

     The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, visited Hong Kong Christian Service's Wan Hon District Elderly Community Centre in Kwun Tong this afternoon (October 10) to see the project's progress.

     At a mutual aid committee of Wan Hon Estate, Mr Cheung chatted to several elder volunteers, including a former abuse victim who had recovered and joined other volunteers as care ambassadors. They will form a carer group to be led by a social worker.

     "The carer groups will help identify needy families and offer counselling and timely follow-up service to the needy through their neighbourhood networks. I believe that the elderly volunteers can reach out to hidden elders who do not know how to seek help more effectively.

     "The former abuse victims may share their experience with those in need to let them know that family problems cannot be resolved through violence or negative means. This will help them amend or rebuild their ties and prevent abuse," Mr Cheung said.

     Mr Cheung then visited a singleton elderly who has joined the "Pilot Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project" at Po Leung Kuk's Lau Chan Siu Po District Elderly Community Centre. Through volunteers' visits and counselling, the elder became cheerful and joined voluntary service to help neighbours and hidden elders.

     "Since the launch of the 19 'Pilot Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project' early this year, various community and residential groups such as mutual aid committees have joined hands to promote active ageing and mutual help. The visit today confirmed my belief that in the face of the challenges of an ageing population, social neighbourhood networks for the elders are of paramount importance.

     "I hope the active ageing projects can motivate more elders and people to take part in volunteer work to foster a caring culture in the community," Mr Cheung said.

     Before concluding the visit, Mr Cheung officiated at the commencement ceremony of the Sunshine Elder Academy jointly organised by Po Leung Kuk's Lau Chan Siu Po District Elderly Community Centre and Po Chiu Catholic Secondary School. The Sunshine Elder Academy is a pioneer in elder academies and offered 300 places last year. It has organised special programmes such as sharing sessions during which the elders and secondary school students could enjoy book reading in a relaxing environment.

     "Elder academies not only enable elders to continue learning, develop their interest and enrich their lives, but also enhance their abilities and confidence by assisting in the management of the academies," he said.

     The Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Elderly Commission jointly launched the Elder Academy Scheme early last year to promote the idea of "active ageing". Currently, there are 78 elder academies in the territory offering a total of 10,000 places this academic year.

Ends/Friday, October 10, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:06


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