One of the biggest challenges our country faces now is caring for the older members of our community, and that challenge will only grow in the future as our population ages.
Supporting Older People, based at Community House on East Parade in Harrogate, has for over 20 years been helping older people with the challenges of loneliness and social isolation. With a team of 4 professionals and over 70 volunteers they do great work supporting what they call clients, but I think quickly become friends.
The support takes many forms, from home visits to social outings and events. The theme is tackling loneliness, and bringing people together is what happens.
There were two elements to my time with them – a coffee morning to meet the team and some clients to hear first hand of the challenges they are facing and then to join a volunteer on a home visit. Joining volunteer Alice and client Inga, we chatted about the different things that Supporting Older People do and how it makes a difference to Inga. That was really clear, Alice helped with some practical things like going to the shops but it was the social side that shone through. Inga and Alice had become good friends. It was a great match of volunteer and client. I could have stayed talking with and listening to Inga for days.
This was a really valuable insight into work being done to help a vulnerable group. The key thought on leaving them was how rewarding it was for both volunteer and client.
There are many ways to volunteer with Supporting Older People, and the more volunteers they have the more older people in our community can be supported. They can be contacted on 01423 531490, and for more information go to http://www.supportingolderpeople.org.uk.