Helping to keep the older community connected
PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:34 16 May 2020
From advice and support, to making friends over the phone, Age UK has continued to offer vital support during the coronavirus outbreak, as Norwich chief executive Dan Skipper explains.
One of our primary services is our advice line, which provides independent information and advice to older people and their families on a wide range of issues. We are sharing daily Q&As online, promoting the common queries we receive. In the initial weeks of Covid-19, this centred around food and prescriptions, but now more “normal” factors are causing people concern.
There is a general level of uncertainty at the moment, and it is important that people have continued support and do not feel alone. Many people call our advice line and share with us that they are on their own and do not have anyone to talk to.
Our advice team are also working with local GP surgeries to contact their most vulnerable patients, and we support them in resolving any issues. Mrs Y was one such case.
Mrs Y is in her 60s, she has rheumatoid arthritis which affects her walking and hands in particular. Her condition has gradually deteriorated, and she recently left work due to her health. This had an impact on her finances, and she also felt socially isolated after leaving work, which worsened with the Covid-19 lockdown.
Following initial contact, it also transpired that her boiler was not working and she had been waiting six weeks for the landlord to fix it – without hot water.
Our advisor arranged for the boiler to be fixed within a few days. An application was completed to claim her full benefit entitlement to help improve her finances. She was also referred to our telephone befriending service and now has regular contact each week.
We have ramped up our telephone befriending service, to offer anyone a call a couple of times a week – this is mostly for people who live alone (remember, half of people aged 75+ live alone.)
We have been overwhelmed by the support offered to us by local businesses whose staff have volunteered as telephone befrienders. This has enabled us to take on more clients at this time of need, so if anyone would like a friendly call each week – contact us on 01603 496325 and we can make that happen.
“We really appreciate you calling to check we are ok – my wife and I don’t have any family, so it’s nice to know that someone cares how we are doing,” said one of our regular service users.
We need more volunteers to help us support older people who want to be befriended. We are expecting lockdown to continue for a number of months to come, and this will only exacerbate the issue and cause more people, who were perhaps active and connected, to become lonelier.
If people would like to volunteer, they can do this online or call us on 01603 496333.
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Normally, we run 30+ activity groups in the city for the over 50s, and we have moved some of these online, producing a library of online videos for physical activity, mindfulness, gardening, games and quizzes, reminiscence and carers support.
To get involved or to find out more visit www.ageuknorwich.org.uk
It is inspiring the way the community all over Norfolk is pulling together to help those in greatest need, and while help is available across the community, much of this vital information is found online or on social media, from which local shops are delivering to how to access the services you might need.
People can be isolated through lack of internet access – or in some cases, possessing it but not being clear how to use it – which is the case with a good many of the older people we speak to. For people without this access, it’s a harsh reminder of their separation from society and loss of control over their own lives.
People in the local area can help with this, by sharing what they know with their older relations, neighbours and friends.
If you have a phone, tablet or computer, but need a little help in using it, don’t be embarrassed – ask your family for some help, or call us on 01603 496325. Our staff and volunteers can offer older people in the city basic support to send an email, search the internet, or chat to family.
Norwich Together Alliance
Age UK is a member of the Norwich Together Alliance.
In a time of isolation, helping communities to connect has never been more important. It’s vital for our health and wellbeing.
With an ambition to tackle loneliness and social isolation in Norwich, Aviva established the Norwich Together Alliance last year.
The alliance is a network of local businesses, charities and the council that have joined forces to explore how we can shape our city to help us all feel more connected.
The aim is to create a more connected and cohesive city for everyone.
Now more than ever, alliance members wants to be there for you and offer the support and guidance you need to get through this challenging time.
For more information and stories on what the Norwich Together Alliance members are doing to bring Norwich Together during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
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