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News Release: Connecting Wales’ older people during COVID-19

News Release

Embargoed for 2 June 2020

 

 

Connecting Wales’ older people during COVID-19

Age Cymru to launch Friend In Need telephone friendship service

 

Age Cymru is to launch the Friend In Need service to help tackle loneliness and isolation amongst the over 70s as a result of social distancing, self-isolation and shielding.

 

Older people will be able to connect with a trained and vetted Age Cymru volunteer for a free weekly friendship call. Funded by the Welsh Government, and with the support of Welsh Government WLGA and Volunteering Wales, the service will be launched on Monday 1 June 2020 to coincide with the start of Volunteering Week.

The initiative, which is part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to make Wales a Compassionate nation, will also support friends or neighbours who are providing informal help to older people and others who are social distancing, self-isolating or shielding with activities such as shopping or collecting prescriptions, to access a range of online resources to support them and they’ll be able to sign up for updates and additional information.

Since the start of the lockdown, the charity has made more than 10,000 calls to older people who are lonely and isolated due to the lock down and handled more than 3,000 enquiries to its advice line, so it knows only too well what are the main challenges and fears currently facing the over 70s.

Denise Morris, Gwynedd: “The calls from Age Cymru help to pick me up whenever I am feeling low. And when I was going through a particularly bad patch their support and advice encouraged me to get the expert help that I needed.”

George Rowles, Denbigh: “Regardless of the length of the call they remind me that I am not forgotten, which is important during these difficult times. It’s also nice just to have a chat.”

Barbara Burt, Neath Port Talbot: “I’m so grateful for the phone calls, it definitely makes me feel less lonely. Every caller I’ve spoken to has been so lovely and we speak about everything from politics to holidays. If I didn’t receive these calls I would only have my dog to talk to, and he doesn’t have much conversation!”

Jeff Evans, Vale of Glamorgan: I look forward to a chat, it has made my life easier as I live alone. The people that call are very easy to talk to, and pleasant. It has been an absolute boon! Thank you Age Cymru.

Age Cymru’s chief executive, Victoria Lloyd says; “There are many older people living in our communities for whom feeling lonely or isolated is nothing new. Giving people the chance to connect, to share their concerns, to chat and to laugh with another human being can be a huge source of comfort.”

The chief executive added; “Many people aged 75 or over do not use the internet so a telephone-based service is important to help keep them connected and feel less isolated”

Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “These are challenging times for us all, but especially for those older people who live on their own. It’s only natural to want to have contact with others; without it we can feel lonely and cut off.

“I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to provide funding for this crucial service. I am sure it will be make a big difference to the lives of all those who access it.”

 

If you or somebody you know might benefit from the Friend in Need service, please contact Age Cymru advice for more information on 08000 223 444 or visit www.agecymru.org.uk/friend-in-need.

If you wish to volunteer as telephone befriender for the Friend in Need service please register at Volunteering Wales: https://volunteering-wales.net/vk/volunteers/registration.htm

How the Telephone Befriending Service will work

1/ Volunteers will register with Volunteering Wales

2/ The volunteers will be interviewed by telephone, and then asked to submit two references and forward a DBS check if they have one.

3/ Age Cymru will provide online training then match the volunteer with an older person for a 30 minute weekly telephone conversation. The charity will also provide on-going support to the volunteer.

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