AS Britain prepares to vote in the General Election, a Scottish charity needs votes of a different kind in order for them to change the lives of lonely and isolated older people living in Edinburgh.
Health in Mind’s Community Connecting project is in the running to receive funding from the Aviva Community Fund; but only if it receives enough votes.
If successful, the project team will be able to recruit, train and support 50 new volunteers to support over one 100 people.
It is easy for anyone to vote.
All they have to do is register at www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk.
It only takes a few minutes and they can then vote up to ten times and all at a stroke of their keyboard.
Service manager, Wendy Bates, says: “Older people face many changes in their lives which may include the death of a life-partner or a change to their physical health.
“They often find themselves facing this alone, not knowing where to turn or who to ask for help.”
The Community Connecting project supports people over the age of 65 who are feeling lonely and isolated.
They are matched with a volunteer who helps to rebuild their confidence and connections within their local community, develop friendships and rediscover who they are.
Wendy continued: “The importance of Community Connecting is shown by research that indicates that isolation in later life can increase the likelihood of an early death by up to 50 per cent with the risk of dementia almost doubling for those who are lonely.
“The reasons for older people becoming isolated from their communities are complex, but whether through loss of confidence, mental health difficulties, bereavement or illness, Community Connecting can offer support to establish new connections and help people reintegrate into their communities.”
The funding would help people like John and here is his story:
John was only 66 when he was diagnosed with dementia and depression. He was a grandfather of 11, but found he could no longer cope with the noise and activity of family life.
He abandoned his social clubs and withdrew from his family who sought support.
They discovered Health in Mind and during his meeting with the project team; John was asked what he hoped to gain. He explained: “I want to be me again.”
The perfect match for John was found in James, a seasoned volunteer for a dementia day centre. The pair immediately connected at their first meeting, where it became clear James had the patience, understanding and sense of humour that John needed.
Over the next four months they shared weekly outings, ranging from trips to the Scottish Parliament to swimming.
John’s meetings with James enabled him to work towards goals and he started to attend a dementia group with his wife. This taught him coping mechanisms for stressful situations, and how to process his feelings.
With the support of Community Connecting, John now feels comfortable sharing his diagnosis with friends and family and has rediscovered his ability to enjoy life.
John and James have remained good friends.
You can view the project online at
https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/1961/ and voting is open until the end of May.
For further information contact Health in Mind’s communications manager, Doreen Graham, on 0759000 9953 or community fundraiser, Katherine Sellar on 0131 225 8508.
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