LETTER: Help needed to lift isolation in Peterborough
For the first time in the UK, the number of older people has overtaken the number of children so it comes as no surprise that The Salvation Army's Good Neighbours scheme is receiving more and more referrals for support for elderly and isolated people in the community.
To constantly meet this demand volunteers are urgently needed.
Today, older people live longer and are also encouraged to live independently in their own homes. Our volunteers support the elderly to live life in all its fullness by promoting independent living, tackling isolation, promoting a heathier lifestyle, giving a voice in things that affect them and helping to build confidence.
Being lonely is one of the worst things an older person can experience.
For most of us, having friends to talk to and share experiences with is often taken for granted.
Social isolation in old age is no trivial matter. Recent studies indicate that lack of social interaction is as likely to cause early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Fifty-one per cent of all people over the age of 75 live alone and five million elderly say the television is their main form of company.
The Salvation Army believe the impulse to take care of others is still there – we just need to nurture it. After all, one day it might be you. The Good Neighbours Scheme offer support with volunteers visiting the elderly ‘service users’ in their own homes, befriending, providing companionship and helping to bring a bit of the outside world into their homes.
A quote from one of our service users: “I spent months at a time barely leaving the house, let alone speaking to anyone else. I have never felt so isolated in my life”, she recalled.
“I would cry a lot. I was just watching the television, listening to the radio and sleeping. I was desperate for company. It just went on and on. My life has now changed for the better as I have a befriender visits me once a week. Waking up and knowing I’m going to see someone each week has changed my life. I’m so happy now.”
Volunteers Opportunities: Volunteers gain by knowing that giving their time is making a difference to other people, so they themselves can feel needed and valued. Volunteering helps to make new friends and contacts. Volunteering increases social and relationship skills. Volunteering increases self-confidence, combats depression and helps to stay physically healthy. Volunteering can provide valuable work experience, and bring fun and fulfilment to life. Volunteering can be challenging, rewarding and varied
If you are 18 or over, committed to the well-being of older people and able to spare an hour or two (daytime or evening) each week, we’d love to hear from you. Volunteers do not need to have any formal qualifications or previous experience”.
Please contact Colin Wise, volunteers development officer, on 01733 892013 or email [email protected]
The Salvation Army, Bourges Boulevard, Peterborough