Like many older people, Pat, who is 75 and lives in Rhondda Cynon Taf, was experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, after finding out about the ‘Keeping Connected in your Community’ project, she now looks forward to seeing people each week to have a “good old chat”.
Led by Valleys Kids the project was set up in 2015 to address the isolation and loneliness agenda to connect older people to a range of sociable events to enjoy.
After securing funding from the Integrated Care Fund (ICF), Valleys Kids worked with people living in the community to develop a programme of activities, ranging from community bingo to armchair aerobics.
A group of older adult volunteers were also recruited to support the delivery of the programme and influence the types of things that were on offer, to ensure there was enough variety and opportunities for people to build friendships.
Pat is one of 174 people living in the community who have benefitted from ‘Keeping Connected in your Community’.
June, who is living with Alzheimer’s, said: “we sit in a chair and do what we can, chat a lot as well. I used to love dancing…. Now we’ve started slow dancing as a group I love it”.
Feedback collected through Valleys Kids shows that, since the launch of the project, participants’ confidence, well-being and self-esteem has grown, and they feel more valued and resilient.
The ICF Funding has enabled Valleys Kids to test different ideas in close collaboration with the communities, while evaluating and beneficial the project is on an ongoing basis.
While many of these activities have paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has not stopped supporting and connecting people living in the community.
Since the start of the pandemic, numbers have increased to 294, with project volunteers working closely with RCT Council to support older adults who are shielding and on the vulnerable list.
Support has included calling people for chats, doing shopping, delivering wellbeing packs and having chats on doorsteps where possible.
As the pandemic takes its course, Valleys Kids envisages that the frontline support will continue, particularly to help re-connect older people like June and Pat into the community.
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