ELDERLY people are being encouraged to take advantage of the facilities in sheltered housing complexes, even if they do not live there.

The Darlington Active Independent and Staying Young (Daisy) campaign, supported by The Northern Echo, is hoping to get people involved in a series of competitions to promote the ongoing work at the borough council's sheltered housing.

Over-50s in the Darlington area can enter the competitions, which range from karaoke and quizzes to tapestry and painting.

Council representitives will pick up entries from people's homes if they are unable to get them to one of the town's 27 sheltered housing complexes for judging.

Jill Walton, warden services manager for the council, said: "People in our sheltered housing live independently but share some facilities, such as communal lounges where events such as keep fit sessions are regularly held.

"We want people over 50 who are not in sheltered accommodation to take part in these sessions and use the facilities that are available.

"There are more than 2,600 people in Darlington using warden services and 830 of these are in sheltered accommodation.

"But we know there are lots of older people in their own homes who don't need or use our services but could benefit from the social aspect of using some of our facilities.

"Older people should be encouraged to keep active.

"We want them to use this month of competitions to visit our sheltered accommodation so they feel more comfortable visiting and using the facilities in future.

"We want to increase people's quality of life whatever their age."

The council has produced 5,000 booklets about Daisy, which have been distributed to doctors' surgeries, libraries and other public buildings throughout the town.

The booklets give details of all the free competitions throughout June as well as more information about the warden service.

People can enter as many competitions as they want and the winners and runners-up in each class will be published in The Northern Echo throughout the month-long campaign.

To receive a booklet or to find our more details about the Daisy campaign call (01325) 388550.