The Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch, has voiced his support for a campaign which aims to encourage people to be more neighbourly and call in on older people in their communities.

The Irish News’ ‘Neighbourhood News’ Initiative, which will run from Monday 25 February to Sunday 3 March, invites shoppers to pick up a complimentary ‘neighbour’ copy of the paper each day from their local SPAR, which should then be shared with an elderly neighbour in a bid to make better connections with older people in their communities.

There are 285,000 older people over the age of 65 living in Northern Ireland, a figure that is predicted to grow to 608,493 for 60+ years by 2039*.

54% of those over 65 years old have never accessed the internet, 4.5% live in communal establishments, and 78,101 older people live alone*.

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, said; “Loneliness is one of the most significant issues for older people in Northern Ireland. Research studies have shown that feelings of loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In addition, people who are very lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, as those who aren’t lonely at all.

“The bottom line is that everyone now is so busy, the community spirit we once had is sadly missing in large parts of Northern Ireland. I commend the Irish News on their ‘Neighbourhood News’ initiative and I hope that people will use this opportunity to have a chat and reconnect with older neighbours who they may have lost contact with. That simple step of taking the time to check in with a neighbour could make a big difference to someone’s day.”

For more information on the initiative, visit and to find a local SPAR store.

Caption: Pictured from left to right, Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing at the Henderson Group, Irish News editor Noel Doran, Irish News chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch and Age NI CEO, Linda Robinson at the launch the Neighbourhood News initiative.