First Connect 

Sam Cunningham works as part of the Age NI team as a First connect Coordinator. 

Age NI's First Connect service offers dedicated emotional and practical support at difficult times in an individual’s life; situations which are often triggered by feeling the loss of independence or sudden unexpected changes in important relationships.

Times like these can impact on a person’s sense of control, self confidence or self esteem and quality of life. Through First Connect we are there to support older people and help them make sense of what is happening in their lives and to support them to make choices and access new opportunities and services that they consider best enhances and sustains their wellbeing and independence. We believe this approach will support older people to remain independent in their own homes and communities.

Sam's Experience 

"I have been a First Connect Coordinator for over eight years now. Something that has really struck me is that life can change very suddenly. One client I worked with found themselves isolated from all the things they had once enjoyed, after having a stroke. They had gone from having a full working life, with a large circle of friends, to only seeing their carers each day.

Such a dramatic change in circumstances can have a huge impact on someone’s self-esteem. Our service helps individuals to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a life-changing event through one-to-one support.

That first meeting with a new client is about sitting down and just listening. Sometimes all someone needs is the chance to share their problems, to know that someone is there for them.

As an individual’s confidence grows we then look into connecting them with people and activities in their local area. Joining a new group can be daunting, so our volunteers are there to ensure that people don’t have to do it on their own. That kind of support can be crucial in helping someone to regain their independence. People really surprise themselves too. When someone invests time in them and values their opinions it can really empower them. It’s so rewarding seeing that transformation."


If you, or someone you know, needs support please call our Advice line on 0808 808 7575