Funding boost to achieve age-friendly communities

Enterprising: Wild Rumpus art tutor Ann Clarke with IRTs Megan Overton and Wild Rumpus co-founder Lizzie Rose. The skill-sharing enterprise will share in this year's IRT Foundation community grants. Picture: Kirk Gilmour
Enterprising: Wild Rumpus art tutor Ann Clarke with IRTs Megan Overton and Wild Rumpus co-founder Lizzie Rose. The skill-sharing enterprise will share in this year's IRT Foundation community grants. Picture: Kirk Gilmour

Homegrown skills-sharing enterprise Wild Rumpus will engage older community members in a new initiative thanks to a welcome funding boost.

Wild Rumpus is one of 12 successful recipients of the IRT Foundation’s 2016 community grants, which this year totalled $150,000.

Lizzie Rose, co-founder of the Wollongong-based non-profit organisation, said it would use its $19,000 grant to develop a range of courses run by older residents.

‘’We run skill-share classes from Helensburgh to Kiama with the overall aim of building resourceful, sustainable, creative communities,’’ she said.

‘’This grant will help build our Pass it On project, where we work with senior members of our community to share their skills in cooking, craft, building and general knowledge.

‘’It’s about empowering people, it works on brain development and in some cases it can help combat isolation, depression and loneliness.’’

For people like Ann Clarke, a TAFE teacher of 40 years who’s recently retired, it’s a chance to keep doing what she loves.

‘’Being able to share their skills gives older people a sense of worth, it’s validating them as a person and validating their creativity,’’ she said. 

IRT Foundation manager Toby Dawson said the grants program, now in its second year, had received more than 80 applications.

The 12 successful projects were based across IRT’s communities in NSW, the ACT and Queensland. That included five Illawarra projects, which had shared in $75,000.

‘’The aim of the grants is to partner with local community organisations to deliver projects that will provide practical solutions to achieve age-friendly communities,’’ Mr Dawson said.

‘’We asked for applications that provided respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment and social participation for older residents.’’

Other Illawarra projects to be funded include Kiama Council’s dementia-friendly scheme which will receive $20,000. This will include inter-generational programs such as play groups for pre-school children in aged care facilities.

The Illawarra’s OWN (Older Women’s Network) will get $1190 for workshops, meditation sessions and therapeutic art; while CareSouth will get $20,000 to start a grandparents program for children from vulnerable backgrounds.

Cancer Council NSW’s grant of $15,393 will establish an expo to help volunteers develop skills and explore new opportunities.

Mr Dawson said the community grants program was part of IRT Group’s commitment to give back $20 million in community dividends by 2020.

‘’The IRT Foundation is creating opportunities for people to age positively,’’ he said. 

‘’The grants program is one of the vehicles we use to do that; we have also invested $1.9 million into research since 2009 and we deliver a range of educational and advocacy initiatives.’’

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