Bid to expand service to befriend the lonely
YOU'VE got a friend. That's the message from Plymouth City Council as they bid to expand a vital service for elderly people.
The authority has just awarded a three year contract to The Elder Tree - allowing them to build on the successful service in the city.
It offers older people a friendly helping hand to overcome loneliness.
The new contract will provide an enhanced service with companionship, and support for people who may be at risk of becoming isolated.
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This could be one to one support in someone's home or linking people in with small groups who take part in community based activities and clubs.
There are also subsidised theatre trips and outings and popular workshops with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
The Elder Tree is proposing to stage a befriending service roadshow that would get out and about to reach groups and areas that are not currently supported by the service.
Councillor Sue McDonald said: "As people are living more independently and staying in their own homes, loneliness is potentially an issue.
"Befriending services are hugely important for older people and with this new contract we are renewing our commitment and offering more people a wider choice of activities and opportunities."
Robbie Nairn, project manager for The Elder Tree added: "We are delighted to be continuing our partnership work with the council for the benefit of older people in the city.
"Our service is not life-saving but it is life changing. People feel we listen to them and treat them with respect and dignity.
"We actively promote social independence, encouraging older people to get out and do the things they used to do like go to the shops, visit friends and have an active social life."
There are 36,000 over 65s in Plymouth.
By 2021, it is predicted that number will increase by 14 per cent.
It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 people over 75 who live alone and half of them have a limiting long term illness.
Such demographic changes are likely to have a significant impact on the number and nature of services required in Plymouth.
More services will be needed to promote healthier living to ensure that people can live independently for as long as possible.
Existing contracts for befriending come to an end in April and the new service delivered by the Elder Tree will begin on May 1 this year.