Supporting work that keeps older people connected and well

Age UK Dudley approached Dudley CVS with an open and collaborative approach to dealing with underspend on its grants programme. Chris and Karen from Age UK Dudley wanted us to work together to support smaller, local groups that mean a lot to older people, by offering small grants and other support to them.

This offer allowed helped us to connect with some very small groups, many of which operated below the radar and it would be great to recognise how a bigger, more established charity has come forward to assist small voluntary groups to set up or continue their work. This is really about working together to support a common aim: keeping vulnerable people connected and well.

 

There is more detail below about what this work has achieved, but highlights include:

  • 9 groups helped to kickstart or expand their activities with grants of £250 or £500
  • 2 groups have been formally set up
  • 4 groups have unlocked further funding totalling £16,303
  • 4 have been linked to each other for mutual support
  • This has helped more than 230 people to stay or become engaged in their community.

 

Since May 2018, Dudley CVS has been working with Age UK Dudley to support the small, local groups that help to keep older people socially connected and well. We wanted to understand what small scale things are happening very locally and the impact of this activity on the people that access it, as well as provide financial and non-financial support to these small, volunteer-led groups to keep their work going.

 

In the first few weeks, we contacted local groups based on our experience of working with groups that involve older people, topped up by the knowledge of our Healthwatch Dudley and Integrated Plus teams. We also put out an open call to groups to share and celebrate the small, local activities that they do to help older people to stay connected (https://bit.ly/2Hbfr28).

 

12 of the 16 groups we contacted wanted to work with Becky in a variety of ways. 9 groups have been able to kickstart or expand their activities with the provision of small-scale grants of between £250 and £500 each; Becky has worked with 2 of the groups to help them become formally constituted; 4 groups have been supported with identifying funders that might support their activity, with successful funding applications topping £16,303; 4 have been linked to each other and to other organisations for mutual support. All of this support has been designed to help them be sustainable and better able to continue their activities that mean so much to their participants.

 

8 groups invited Becky and Helena to their activities so that we could see what they did and speak to people that participated in their activities. We learned lots about what taking part in social and recreational projects meant to the participants and we were staggered by the similarities we found. This work has so far helped more than 230 people to stay or become engaged in their community. Feedback from members of these groups strongly suggested that they played a crucial role in keeping people connected, in combating loneliness and isolation and in building resilience, for example:

 

“Members decide exactly what they would like to do. When I visited, we chatted about each other’s weeks to help break the ice and we all took part in a couple of quizzes to get the brain firing! Once more, the stories of why people attended were very similar; it was about social contact being important for their emotional wellbeing, getting out of the house and preventing isolation.”

Read more about Friday Friends on the blog The groups making new friends on Wednesdays and Fridays (https://bit.ly/2uBQRno)

 

“Based at the Meadow Road Youth Centre, the Senior Citizens Enterprise Woodwork Group, in Dudley, is a group for older people who are interested in woodwork.  It’s a fun and friendly environment offering older people a place to learn new or develop existing woodworking skills. It’s also a great place to find new friendships. The group has 23 members in total. Some members live on their own, some are widowers, some just like to get out of the house, make something and put their skills to good use! The oldest member, Ken, is 93 years old.

‘Fed up with looking at four walls? Then come and look at ours instead!’  That’s the motto of the Senior Citizens Enterprise Woodwork Group.”

Read more about the group in our blog ‘Fed up with looking at four walls? – Senior Citizens Enterprise Woodwork Group (https://bit.ly/2ts8e97)

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