Older people left isolated during the pandemic are being offered a ‘lifeline’ – through a befriending service run by a west London charity.
The telephone support service run by Age UK Ealing sees volunteers and staff call older people up to three times a week, checking on their welfare, offering advice and support and a friendly voice on the end of the line.
When Covid restrictions are eased, the charity will resume offering in-person visits for a cup of tea and a chat, help around the house or trips out for shopping or visits to attractions such as museums.
The scheme is made possible thanks to a £145,000 three-year grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.
City Bridge Trust Committee Chairman Dhruv Patel said: “For many of us, losing access to social activities and interaction with other people has been one of the hardest things about the pandemic, and it’s been even more difficult for many older people living on their own.
“The service being offered by Age UK Ealing offers a real lifeline to older people, allowing them to enjoy the boost to their physical and mental wellbeing which comes from regular contact with other human beings.”
The service has proven invaluable during the Covid crisis, including during the first lockdown when volunteers were able to ensure older people had enough food and other provisions to get them through the week.
Age UK Ealing Chief Executive Reginald Parkinson said: “Even before Covid, loneliness was a big issue for many of the older people we work with, and that’s only been exacerbated by the fact so many options for social interaction have been closed off during the pandemic.
“Having this support available is transformational – it gives older people a lot of reassurance to know there’s someone on the end of the phone they can talk to, and the prospect of meeting up after the lockdown gives them hope and something to look forward to.
“Our volunteers get as much out of it as the older people they support – it’s rewarding for them to be able to help someone else, and above all they get the benefit of a real and lasting friendship with someone who in other circumstances they probably would never have crossed paths with.”