- Who: Age UK Lindsey
- Project: Keep Connected
- Target: £25,000
- Why: to support older people isolated by the coronavirus crisis
- Where: Lincolnshire, UK
Keep Connected is Age UK Lindsey's emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to protect the most vulnerable members of our community by supporting older people in our area who are most at risk due to isolation and lack of access to digital information and online services.
Age UK Lindsey is an independent local charity, working to promote and improve the well-being of older people in East Lindsey, West Lindsey and North Lincolnshire. We have over thirty years' experience in delivering services specifically designed to encourage and support independent living.
Although a brand partner of Age UK, we ordinarily rely on locally-raised funds and income from our shops to facilitate the services that we provide. However, the current situation has resulted in a significant loss of income for the charity and has placed us in a very difficult financial position. Despite this, we continue to provide vital, responsive support, which has proved invaluable to residents in our region.
On average, 23.8% of the population in East Lindsey, West Lindsey and North Lincolnshire is aged 65 or over. We know from experience that many of our older residents do not have friends or family living nearby and are not digitally connected.
The coronavirus outbreak has created confusion, fear and concern for many of us. However, at Age UK Lindsey, we identified that shielding guidelines, along with lack of access to reliable information and online services was leaving our clients at even greater risk of becoming isolated and forgotten.
Unable to continue our face-to-face Befriending Service, Home Support, Transport Services and much-loved Lunch Clubs, (in line with government guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading the disease), we quickly established that without intervention, many of our clients could become lonely and confused by the rapidly changing situation. Furthermore, the rise in scams during lockdown meant that more than ever, it was vital that older people in our community had a reliable, caring and reassuring point of contact.
The Project - Keep Connected
This entirely new service is supported by existing staff and volunteers, drawing upon years of experience in providing the best, caring support to those who need it most.
In the first week of lockdown, we made over 220 calls to our clients, primarily to keep them informed about the changes in service provision but also to carry out initial well-being checks. Since then, the team has been calling an average of 156 older people every week: those identified as needing our help the most.
Each call assesses the person's well being. Are they OK? Do they have everything they need? Are they confused or worried about the latest news briefings? Often, it's simply the chance to have a friendly chat with someone who cares, that makes all the difference. It ensures that despite the current situation, they can Keep Connected. However, when extra support is requested or a person is identified as being 'at risk', we are able to take action in getting them the help that they need. This could involve liaising with other service providers, or utilising our fantastic Information and Advice service to provide support specific to the client's needs.
Despite recent changes in Government guidelines, the advice for the over 70s and anyone with specific underlying health conditions remains the same - stay at home. Therefore we must remain at the forefront of providing reliable, trustworthy, impartial advice and support, and help more older people to Keep Connected.
...is to ensure that no older person is missed. With your help, we can make that happen. We currently have funding to support our existing clients; your donation will ensure that we can grow the service to reach more people, and make a bigger difference. As the project develops, we will be looking to send out 'Thinking of You' well-being packs to some of our most vulnerable clients. An extra way of ensuring that older, isoalted people do not feel forgotten.
The Keep Connected Team
Headed up by Project Manager Liz Brooks, The team consists of staff and volunteers from Befriending and Lunch Clubs. Liz has only been in post a short while, and was certainly not expecting such a challenge with her first project! The team has been working tirelessly since the outbreak to develop the service and ensure that it meets the ever-changing needs of our clients.
What you can do
With your support we can increase the number of calls that we make. Currently, we are making regular, scheduled calls to our existing clients and a small number of newly-identified people at risk. Your donation will help us to reach more people, make more calls and ensure that no one has to feel lonely, isolated or confused as a result of coronavirus.
By choosing to Gift Aid your donation, we'll receive an extra 25p for every £1 that you donate, at no extra cost to you.
Follow us on social media @AgeUKLindsey, like and share our posts, and tell everyone you know about the Keep Connected Crowdfunder Project.
A few final words
- Coronavirus Hub
Age UK Lindsey has created an online coronavirus hub, ensuring that those who do have access to the internet have reliable and easy-to-understand information available to them, 24/7, throughout the crisis.
- Thank you
We would like to thank our match-funding partners Lincolnshire Community Foundation.
Huge thanks also to everyone who donates to our fund. Every penny really will make a difference to older people in our community. Stay safe and stay well.