AN initiative that supports older people in Darlington has celebrated its 12th anniversary as members look to secure its future when council funding comes to an end next year.

The Growing Older Living in Darlington group, known as Gold, started as a ten year project to give the over 50s a voice on local issues, with funding from Darlington Borough Council and the NHS.

Although council funding was extended for a further three years, it will come to an end in March next year.

Loading article content

As it looks to survive and continue its work, Gold has invited a number of other organisations, including Age UK, Healthwatch Darlington and Darlington Association on Disability, to consider whether they could take on Gold and its members.

At a celebration event at Darlington’s Central Hall Councillor Veronica Copeland, cabinet member for adult and social care at the council, told Gold members that the organisation is at a crossroads.

She added: “You need to decide how the future is going to pan out – we want to hear your views and ideas.

“There are lots of ideas to make life for older people here in Darlington better but we want to know about your priorities for the future.”

Gold chairman Terry Taylor told the meeting: “We knew the council were going to stop the funding a couple of years ago and we have already lost NHS funding.

“We need to look at who is going to take us over. We have a lot of experience and we’ve done a lot to support people in this town.”

Members took part in round table discussions to air their views, with representatives from groups interested in working with Gold also invited to take part.

The preferred options for the future will be discussed at Gold’s AGM in May.

Audrey Lax, chairwoman of the Gold health group, which liaises with NHS bodies and care homes on over 50s issues, said it was important that older people were allowed to speak for themselves.

She said: “In my head I’m still 21 although my body doesn’t agree with me. I always say to younger people – I’ve been your age, but you haven’t been mine. Gold is important for getting the views of older people across.”