In its role of the coordinator of the Taking Action on Social Inclusion of Older People project, the Red Cross of Serbia is tasked with visiting all leading partner organisations on the project in the region and monitor the implementation of activities but also offer assistance and support if there are challenges. The second in the series of these visits was organised last week, on 16 November when the representatives of the coordination team visited the Red Cross of Montenegro and Dignitas network. The meeting was organised in the Red Cross premises and alongside Dignitas network members also present were representatives of the Institute for Social and Child Protection and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. On behalf of the coordination team, Nataša Todorović and Dr Milutin Vračević of the Red Cross of Serbia participated in the meeting whereas the Red Cross of Montenegro was represented by Jelena Šofranac and Igor Jokanović, the project coordinating team in Montenegro.

 

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Ivana Bošković of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection presented the activities and services for older people provided by the Ministry as well as its plans for the near future. At the moment there are 109 gerontomaids in Montenegro working with approximately 1000 older beneficiaries, two retirement homes as well as a day care centre for older people in Nikšić. There are plans to develop two more retirement homes in Pljevlja and Nikšić. Aware of the need for intergenerational solidarity, the Ministry also developed a digital inclusion programme.

The Red Cross of Montenegro also has a digital inclusion programme, focused on rural areas of the municipality of Mojkovac. This project helped older people remaining in their rural homes learn how to use Skype to get in touch with their family members as well as helped family members provide some remote assistance and support to them.

Dragana Đurović from the Institute for Social and Child protection spoke about licensing gerontomaid services and training that is planned to be provided by her institute. Branko Milošević from the Association of Pensioners stressed that healthy, active ageing is one of the essential priorities of his Association and that only joint work can yield results in combating stigma, prejudice and stereotypes about older people. Montenegro has 115,000 pensioners, 85,000 of them over the age of 65 and one of the objectives of the Association is to preserve their physical and psychological health as well as to support the most vulnerable ones through subventions and benefits. Representative of Naše doba NGO, Vesna Laktuš also spoke of digital inclusion o older people as an important asset in their future access to and exercise of their rights.

Although Dignitas network was only recently formed, there is cohesion in its thinking and a sense of ownership, as well as motivation to work together in addressing the identified problems of older Montenegrins.

The main message from the meeting is that networks need to expand and enlist new members that can bring fresh perspectives to existing problems as well as that it is very useful to have representatives of relevant ministries present.

 

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