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Ready to help . . . Grey Power North Otago president Paul Hyde and social secretary Graeme Leather at Community House, in lower Thames St. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Grey Power North Otago wants to work with other groups in the Waitaki district to provide greater support to the elderly, social secretary Graeme Leather says.

The advocacy group, which has between 240 and 250 members, held its annual meeting on June 21, and discussed ways it could extend its reach within the community.

Those discussions included the potential for working with other volunteer and service groups, such as Age Concern Waitaki, which it collaborated with last year along with Safer Waitaki to conduct a survey on issues that most affected elderly people.

Mr Leather said healthcare, a lack of public transport and the cost of utilities such as electricity were all key issues for the elderly.

The other significant concern was loneliness, which could in turn lead to depression.

“The elderly turn in on themselves when they are isolated, and it can be a disaster,” Mr Leather said.

“They don’t look after themselves properly. The first thing we are going to do is advertise what exactly is out there for them.”

One recently-introduced event was a housie game on the first Wednesday of every month at the St John Hall in Exe St, which attracted between 25 and 30 people.

The group also planned to hold monthly gatherings on the third Thursday of each month at local cafes, starting on July 19.

Regarding the cost of electricity, Mr Leather said many of the group’s members had joined Grey Power Electricity, a partnership between Pulse Energy and Grey Power to provide low electricity prices.

He said heating was a major financial burden for many in the Waitaki district.

“Some of the older members of Grey Power live in three- or four-bedroom houses with a big garden, and they need a lot of help.

“Heating can be a real issue .. especially living in a huge, old house. They shut down part of the house and live in two rooms.”

Grey Power can be contacted via email at nogreypower@yahoo.co.nz.