Age UK Report – June 17

Achievements:

Sunday afternoon teas in people’s homes These continue to be popular and have now been running for more than two years. Two volunteers from St Margaret’s Church help to host and provide transport to one of the teas.

Second Wednesday Dementia Cafe: This has been running for nearly two years and has supported a number of carers and people suffering with dementia. Sadly, a number of people have died or moved into residential care. A core group of 12 people have formed strong and supportive relationships.

First Wednesday Lunch Club: We continue to get good numbers to this lunch which is for carers and people with dementia (numbers vary between 28 and 47 attending the lunch with over 60 on the books). I have taken over the cooking and running of this lunch, supported by a colleague and group of volunteers. Thames Water now supports us, providing both volunteers and practical help.

Late Spring Bereavement Support Group has been running for more than 18 months and has been a source of support for a number of people. A core group of people from different backgrounds are now good friends.

Summertown Library Information Drop-in provides a visible presence in the community. Over the last couple of years I have build relationships with library staff and given advice and support to many people.

Playwriting Group: This was run in partnership with ‘Living the Drama Ltd’ and was a highly successful course with two successive groups. The courses culminated with a play written by a group member, performed by professional actors, in sold-out performances at The Old Fire Station. Performances of other plays were taken to care homes around Oxford. A new course will be starting in the autumn.

SMI Film Club started last October and has been very successful. We get between 20 and 30 people each time from a pool of more than 40. Although some people are known to me, this has appealed to a wide range of people, putting me in contact with a number of new faces.

Support for Individuals: This continues to be an important source of help for members of the community. I have provided help to a large number of people. It is a less visible but vital part of the work.

Supporting volunteers with their own initiatives: I am working with three different volunteers to start up new initiatives. The ideas come from the volunteers whose ages range from 17 – 99. These are to provide community and friendship for older people and include an intergenerational tea and Sunday lunch.

Things to celebrate: Over the last six months, the work has become more established and the numbers in groups have grown. I am reaping the rewards of investing in relationships within the community with both clients and professionals. The number of volunteers has grown and people are taking their own initiative, wanting to start new things.

What are the challenges and things inhibiting the development of this work?  Many of the challenges are integral to working with this age range. People face many challenges – decreasing mobility and health; regular medical appointments; bereavement; loss of status in society and loss of physical and mental ability which all result in a loss of confidence. Day to day living is challenging for many and attending a new group can take much encouragement and support from me. Sadly this isn’t a stable community as some have died or gone into residential care. It requires me to work hard at recruiting new members to keep groups stable.

Surmountable challenges would be finding a couple of volunteers who would commit to helping at the film club. We serve tea and coffee for the first half-an-hour with the aim of creating friendships. I need volunteers to make and serve the refreshments and talk to people, introducing them to others. Another challenge is transport. Many people have mobility issues and are unable to get to groups using public transport. These are the people who most need to be part of a group as they are likely to be isolated. I continue to work hard at generating interest by the local community in supporting a local Good Neighbour Scheme with volunteer drivers and befrienders but no real interest shown in this to date.