A support service to help older people in Ceredigion and north Pembrokeshire was launched this week in Cardigan.

The service, provided by local housing association Cantref, is aimed at all people over 55 regardless of whether they are a home owner or live in rented property.

The initiative, which started last April, was launched officially at Llys Owen in Aberteifi - one of three sheltered home complexes run by Cantref. The aim is to enable people to live independently for as long as possible in their own homes and includes practical help for repairs, advice on benefits and housing as well as general support.

Cardigan councillor Mark Cole told the launch: "We are an ageing population. We are also proud and sometimes people find it difficult asking for help."

Referrals to the support service can be made via agencies or by individuals themselves.

Cllr Cole said it was important for all agencies - including the local authority - to work together.

"We are living through unparalleled financial times. It is imperative that we as a local authority work closely with organisations like Cantref. We need to work closely and we need to work cleverly. Ceredigion can't provide all the servies it once did or what people think it should. It's important we get the message out in the community so that people know what is available for them."

Cantref chief executive Lynne Sacale told the launch: "People are living longer and want to maintain their independence. There is a new approach to the provision of accommodation meeting the aspirations of older people."

Information about the scheme is available from Cantref on 01239 712031 or www.cantref.co.uk.