National charity Contact the Elderly aims to alleviate the loneliness of isolated older people aged 75 and over, who live alone. Supported by a network of volunteer drivers, hosts and coordinators, the charity organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties in local communities throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
One of Contact the Elderly’s biggest challenges is reaching those who are completely cut off from society and therefore most in need of our support.
Find out more: www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk
Growing Support turns underused care home gardens into bustling hubs of community activity and thriving growing spaces.
There are 400,000 older people living in care, most of whom have dementia. Studies show residents of care homes spend most of their time doing nothing and are twice as likely to feel lonely as people living in the community. And yet working in care homes, particularly with people with dementia, is one of the least popular forms of volunteering.
Growing Support delivers volunteer led, social and therapeutic gardening activities. This means we run weekly gardening clubs, mostly in care home gardens, where people with dementia are enabled to grow their own food, exercise vital muscle groups, enjoy sensory stimulation, socialise and develop a renewed sense of purpose and achievement.
Our work increases the involvement of the community in care and provides a sustainable solution to loneliness, social isolation and inactivity experienced by people with dementia.
Find out more –www.growingsupport.co.uk
Action for Deafness (AFD) is a charitable, not for profit organisation which provides volunteering opportunities to service users. AFD believes that being able to meet with someone with the same disability and being able to express frustrations, anxieties, discuss practical issues and share possible solutions can reduce the feelings of isolation which are common in deaf people. Working with peers can be a positive experience, can be empowering and can improves quality of life. AFD is continually expanding and can offer volunteering opportunities to those outside West Sussex.
Find out more –www.actionfordeafness.org.uk
Using memories of sport to engage older people in conversation and reminiscence, the network engages with volunteers across communities to establish social groups in a wide variety of settings.
Following an initial pilot project involving 15 care homes in Leeds, the approach has been rolled out across cities and counties to engage with people over the age of 55, particularly those who may have memory problems, dementia, depression or are at risk of being socially isolated. Partners involved in current projects include professional sports clubs, adult social care providers, NHS Wards, Care Homes, libraries, museums and pubs.
In addition to promoting and improving mental well-being through reminiscence, the local projects also raise awareness of conditions such as dementia across communities and generations.
Changing Lives in Cornwall is a partnership of voluntary groups and state services providing schemes like; Steady On (provides ‘buddies’ to help older adults with balance issues); Get Well Stay Well (a support service for those returning home after a stay in hospital) and
Memory Café (a place for those who suffer from or care for older adults with dementia).
This holistic approach to local service provision is working well. And older people aren’t just the recipients of services; they also get involved in providing support.
For more information see: http://www.volunteercornwall.org.uk/changing-lives/
You can watch the video of how Changing Lives can be found
Knit for peace supports and creates knitting groups in a variety of locations within areas of deprivation that can benefit from bringing communities together (e.g. community groups, prisons, schools).
On top of being an enjoyable and therapeutic activity, knitting has previously been linked with a number of positive outcomes such as lowered blood pressure, improved chronic pain, decreasing depression and offsetting social isolation (see Stitchlinks and Dr Benson of the Harvard Medical School).
As well as bringing people and communities together Knit for Peace also gives group members the opportunity to help others in need by linking them with charities that work directly with those benefitting from kitted items (e.g. at risk older adults, refugee camps in Africa, hospitals, homeless shelters, animal homes) and keeping the knitters updated on where their items go.
For more information see: http://www.knitforpeace.org.uk/
The Big Lunch aims to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours once a year in a simple act of community, friendship and fun. In 2013 the Big Lunch date is Sunday 2 June.
Since starting in 2009 with the backing of the Eden Project, thousands of Big Lunches have taken place in all types of community across the UK. In 2012 8.5million people took part. Big Lunch has had a particular impact connecting older people to their neighbours.
Gransnet’s website supports grandparents with news and information. It plans to create an app for mobiles/tablets that allows their website users to connect to each other and to local information.
Lively online forums are a low-pressure route for people to interact and share around their particular interests, whether TV shows, gardening, or books. People who have met online have already started meeting in the real world.
Gransnet want to create a mobile/tablet app to support more peer-to-peer networking, on the move, with local information and support. 80 local organisers are being recruited to run local websites, with a local app for each, providing support, information, advice and friendship for local people and giving those currently offline a reason to get connected. It will offer people an open-ended way to engage – chatting, complaining, supporting and exchanging information.
The Gransnet app will contain information on everything local, including NHS services, peer-to-peer health support, cultural events, local authority consultations and local campaigns, volunteering and job opportunities.