LEADING EXPERTS JOIN MA’AN TO DISCUSS WHY SOCIAL INNOVATION IS KEY TO IMPROVING SENIOR CITIZENS’ QUALITY OF LIFE IN ABU DHABI

31
  • The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an hosts the latest edition of its ‘Join the Conversation’ event to highlight the importance of addressing and tackling the social challenges faced by key priority group Senior Citizens and Residents.
  • Panellists representing the Department of Community Development, Department of Culture and Tourism, Family Development Foundation and Al Mubarakah Foundation participated in the engaging virtual event.
Her Excellency Salama Al Ameemi, Director General of Ma’an

Abu Dhabi: Finding innovative solutions to better look after senior citizens and new ways to help seniors be more integrated and active members of Abu Dhabi society was the focus of discussion for the Emirate’s leading social inclusion experts in the latest ‘Join The Conversation’ event held by the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an.

As the theme for the fifth cohort of the Ma’an Social Incubator programme, the virtual discussion focused on senior citizens in Abu Dhabi, unique challenges in their lives and how social entrepreneurship can help address this pressing social priority.

H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development and Her Excellency Salama Al Ameemi, Director General of Ma’an, were joined by Amal Azzam, Expert at the Family Development Foundation, Dr. Mona Majed Mohamed Al-Mansoori, Board Member of Al Mubarakah Foundation, Samia Saeed Al-Ameri, Head of the Internal Communication Department at Department of Culture and Tourism and Alanoud Al-Sawa’I, Head of the Family and Women Department at the Department of Community Development, at the event.

Panellists represent organisations that are playing a central role shaping the social sector in the Emirate by providing a range of highly impactful assistance and special programmes for various members of the community.

Speaking during the event, Her Excellency said: “This is an important conversation to have because it addresses social issues that are in line with the national policy for the senior citizens and residents, which is based on seven strategic pillars. These pillars focus on different areas including health care, enhancing interaction between the community, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, investing in energies, civil participation, infrastructure, transportation, financial stability, security, well-being and quality of life. These are crucial in building Abu Dhabi into the great and prosperous city to work in and live.

“Over the past four cohorts, the Ma’an Social Incubator programme has proven to be effective in finding innovative solutions to key social challenges . We look forward to the next cohort in which the shortlisted teams will provide the community with vital services that will help contribute to enhancing social cohesion and social integration for senior citizens and residents. It will create opportunities for them to share their expertise that will help contribute to the growth of the economy while introducing senior citizens to technology  to ensure they are in constant communication and can stay up-to-date with latest news through social media platforms.”

“We hope this ‘Join The Conversation’ will encourage individuals to apply to the Social Incubator programme and help shape the future of Abu Dhabi through developing solutions that will change seniors’ lives for the better and help make them active members of our community for years to come,” Her Excellency added.

This new Ma’an Social Incubator programme cohort will see social entrepreneurs undergo a 90-day training programme designed to find ways to improve existing solutions and develop new programmes that will benefit Abu Dhabi’s senior citizens. Ma’an will support the 10 shortlisted teams to build sustainable business ventures specific to these solutions by providing access to mentorship, office space, business expertise, funding and investors.

Amal Azzam, said: “At the Family Development Foundation, we believe in the importance of uniting the societal efforts by bringing individuals, government entities, civil society and private sector organisations together in facing the psychological challenges that are being experienced by senior citizens and residents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of empowering this category at all levels, where technology was key for staying in contact with others. The Foundation has had a major role in establishing a huge database that includes all members of society who are over 60-years-old, activating mechanisms for individuals to communicate which enhanced their mental health while adhering to measures that made them healthy and well. We will continue to move forward to develop these systems to build a better future for this important group.”

Dr. Mona Majed Mohamed Al-Mansoori: “We are pleased to continue our pioneering journey with Ma’an through the ‘Journey of Generations’ programme, which has proven to be integral in building bridges and increasing interaction between generations.

“The pandemic presented several challenges but senior citizens and residents were able to benefit from using technology to communicate with volunteers made up of university students that helped mitigate the effects of social isolation.”

Samia Saeed Al-Ameri, said: “At the Department of Culture and Tourism, we are committed to support all members of society in Abu Dhabi while attaching special importance to senior citizens and residents. They are important members of our community which is why we organise field visits to cultural and archaeological destinations as a way to interact with society while also keeping them informed of new surroundings. The pandemic meant we had to conduct virtual tours which included key destinations in the UAE. Following this, we aim to implement new plans that will again focus on senior citizens.”

Alanoud Al-Sawa’I, said: “One of the most recent Quality of Life surveys showed that there was a need to formulate a new strategy in order to provide more support to senior citizens and residents going forward. As part of this, we expanded our surveys to include focus groups where we listened to the views of senior citizens. By doing this, we have been able to identify a number of challenges that they are facing. These included loneliness, health and wellbeing, and difficulties to earn an income after retiring and we have taken steps to develop strategic plans with our partners in the social sector to find solutions that will support and empower them.”

The ‘Join The Conversation’ event was organised by Ma’an as part of a regular series of initiatives to bring together stakeholders from across the public, private and third sector to advance the agenda of creating collaborative communities.

The Ma’an Social Incubator is one of Ma’an’s five key pillars and is part of its on-going efforts to grow Abu Dhabi’s third sector by supporting not-for-profits and social enterprises and contribute to the development of strong, active and connected communities. The Social Incubator supports Abu Dhabi’s vision to drive innovation in the social sector by fostering creative and sustainable solutions to address existing social challenges.

About Ma’an:

Ma’an was established in February 2019 under the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi with the aim of bringing together the government, the private sector and civil society to support a culture of social contribution and participation. The authority will deliver solutions for social challenges with five main pillars of work – a Social Investment Fund, a Social Incubator Programme, Community Engagement Programmes and the introduction of a new type of public contracting, Social Impact Bonds, as well as Outreach Management.

Ma’an will support the third sector to flourish in Abu Dhabi, enabling responsible not for profit associations or foundations and social enterprises to contribute to the development of strong, active and connected communities.

Ma’an Authority for Social Contribution is an initiative under the Ghadan 21 accelerator programme, supporting Abu Dhabi to become one of the best places in the world to do business, invest, live, work and visit.