LEAP was formed in 1992 by older people in the Cambuslang area because of a lack of things for older people to do. Their first meeting was in a car!
Today, the organisation operates in 18 communities in South Lanarkshire and still provides learning and leisure opportunities. But it now also provides vital befriending and handyperson services to help older people live in their own homes for longer.
In 2012, LEAP operated out of one small office with seven staff supported by 53 volunteers and an income of £67,000.
Come 2018, LEAP operated out of two offices and three shops with 25 staff and more than 240 volunteers. And, for the first time in its history, LEAP’s income – a sign of funders’ faith in our ability to deliver change – broke the £500,000 barrier.
And when you open the doors of one of LEAP’s premises, it is like stepping into the TARDIS
From still such a small workforce, LEAP manages to deliver more than 18,000 hours of befriending sessions, handyperson jobs and recycling opportunities through its Hands On and R:evolve Recycle projects to clients throughout South Lanarkshire.
Importantly, 97 per cent of people receiving befriending and handyperson services feel less isolated and say their mental health and wellbeing has improved.
They also feel safer living in their homes, and feel more confident about remaining that way. These changes – often delivered through a chat, or a small job such as changing a lightbulb – make the difference to people’s ability to live independently and access their communities again.
Margaret and Jane see each other for two hours every week. They got on so well that they increased the time of their visits from one hour to two hours. Margaret feels connected with the local community as Jane brings round a copy of the Strathaven Echoes, the local paper, and they have a chat about the local goings on in the community.
Jane also volunteers with a local organisation ‘Friends of Strathaven Park’, and Margaret enjoys hearing about the work that they do. Margaret’s mobility has decreased and she is less able to get out in the time that Jane has been visiting so having this connection to the outside world is really important to Margaret. She enjoys hearing about Jane’s family, and about their holidays.
Margaret's sister is less physically fit and able to come down to see her as she lives about half an hour away. This means that she has less visits than she would have had previously so Jane’s visit really helps pass time in the week where there are few visitors. Having Jane visiting Margaret really is a vital part of Margaret’s week.
From using the Befriending Service, Margaret has also benefited from using the Handy Person’s service to have small jobs carried out by our local volunteers. This has meant that she continues to feel safe and secure within her home.
LEAP provides its volunteers with comprehensive training and job descriptions, regular reviews and close attention to detail when matching them with potential clients.
This investment pays off handsomely as volunteers often remain with the organisation for many years, and clients feel safe in the knowledge that people coming into their homes can be trusted, and will be working to professional standards.