Established by the United Nations in 1990, the International Day of Older Persons brings awareness to both the issues which face older people and to the valuable contributions older people bring to societies around the world. This year's theme "Digital Equity for All Ages" provides an opportunity for PWCF to highlight some of the incredible charities doing wonderful work in this area and raising awareness of the issues faced by older people.
Good Companions, a small charity based in Nottingham, is on a mission to reduce loneliness and isolation for older people. Throughout the pandemic, Good Companions operated an outreach befriending service, and vulnerable members of the community found friends in volunteers who regularly telephoned for a conversation. For the 145 beneficiaries, the impact of a friendly chat was huge as many service users spent lockdown shielding, away from friends and family.
In addition to telephone conversations, Good Companions helped service users to increase their digital literacy, introducing WhatsApp and Zoom to older people and improving their confidence online. This affirms the importance of the theme of this year’s International Day of Older Persons.
Another organisation supported by the PWCF COVID-19 Recovery Fund is the Erskine Hospital in Scotland, which provides nursing and residential care to 180 older veterans and their spouses. Through an award from PWCF, the Erskine Hospital was able to purchase vital supplies of PPE for staff and veterans, helping the Hospital to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. As visitors have returned to Erskine and social activities resume, quality medical grade PPE remains important in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and helping people to socialise once more. Erskine Hospital uses over 8,000 masks per week.
Food insecurity rose significantly during the pandemic. With support from PWCF, Home From Hospital Care worked to support those affected by food insecurity in Birmingham. The charity provide food parcels to those who have recently left hospital and find grocery shopping a challenge - particularly in lockdown. Since February 2021, the project has supported 98 people, providing each beneficiary with a three day food parcel, often accompanied by a home visit and further support. 72% of beneficiaries lived alone, so it was important for mental and physical health to ensure that there was no return to empty cupboards.
One recipient of a food parcel said that: ‘It has been a life saver. I have been really ill for the past twelve months and my family all live far away. I had no way of shopping for myself when I came out of hospital. It has been invaluable.’
Through our partnerships with the Carers Trust and Omega, we have supported older people experiencing end-of-life care, both as a patient and as a carer. This care also extends to bereavement support.
Re-Engage provides vital life-enhancing social connections for older people. PWCF awarded funding to enable the charity to reduce isolation and loneliness amongst the elderly through monthly tea parties.
Finally, our work with Penny Brohn UK, of which our founder - HRH The Prince of Wales is patron, is helping to increase levels of access to cancer care for older people from ethnic minority backgrounds in Bristol. To learn more about our grants programmes, please browse the projects we’ve supported.