A service that helps combat loneliness in older people in Preston and South Ribble is under threat.Advertisement
Age Concern Central Lancashire’s befriending service has 60 volunteers making visits to more than 100 isolated and lonely older people, to provide friendship and a link to the outside world.
The service ceased to be funded by Lancashire County Council in May this year.
Roger Jones, Executive Director of Older People’s Services at Age Concern Central Lancashire, said: “Studies have identified loneliness and isolation are key issues for older people, as they can be a major cause of unhappiness and can contribute towards physical and mental illness. Befriending services have been used as one of a range of initiatives to help combat this.
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“We have been delivering a befriending service for many years. In recent times this has been funded by Strand 3 of the LCC Crisis Aversion contract. Despite losing this funding, the Trustees of Age Concern feel it is our duty of care to continue to support older isolated people in their own homes with visits.
“The Trustees have therefore dedicated some funds to ensure the service continues in the short term, while looking for funding to continue the much-needed service long term. The search continues.”
County Councillor Graham Gooch, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for adult services, said: “Strand 3 of the Crisis Aversion contract focused on establishing schemes such as luncheon clubs and befriending projects to support vulnerable people.
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“The aim was for these projects to eventually become self-funding. The funding came to an end after five years in May, having contributed towards several successful community schemes that are still up and running and will continue to provide valuable support to local people.
“This funding has been re-invested in improving people’s care after they are discharged from hospital, preventing hospital admissions and supporting people to live independently in their home for longer.”
As well as befriending, Age Concern Central Lancashire offer bolt-on services that can provide extra support to maintain older people’s independence at home. Services include financial assistance from the Access to Benefits team, who look at maximising income into the household, and home help and nail cutting. They also have a list of partners who cover all aspects of maintaining independence at home.
For more information, visit the Age Concern Central Lancashire website.