Supporting Older People
Supporting Older People is a charity that works primarily in Harrogate and Knaresborough to help alleviate the loneliness and isolation often experienced by older people living on their own, or those caring for someone living with dementia. Their core service is a befriending scheme where volunteers are matched with older people who then visit them on a regular basis to provide companionship, support with an interest or just have a chat over a cup of tea. The team also organises social events and activities like afternoon ‘tea and talk’, an over sixties singing group, a dining out club, outings and more.
Pre-pandemic they were supporting more than 200 older people. The outbreak of Covid-19 meant all their services, as well as fundraising events, had to stop as they were all face-to-face. Funding from the NET Coronavirus appeal through Two Ridings Community Foundation, helped the team to move their befriending scheme to a telephone service, which was already piloted the year before. At its peak 406 calls were made a week through the telephone befriending service, and the team saw a huge surge in volunteers willing to help. They were quickly able to recruit 200 volunteers, mainly those who had been furloughed.
The volunteers, together with the funding from the National Emergencies Trust, enabled the team to start a prescription collection and delivery service, as well as deliver food and essentials to vulnerable older people who were shielding, scared to leave their house or struggling financially. Now the Supporting Older People team has been able to reach more than 600 older people living alone and offer them a vital lifeline to cope with social isolation and the mental health impact of the pandemic.