Independent Age
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Independent Age

Stories of change from the North East

Independent Age’s Community Services help isolated older people to rebuild a fulfilling and independent social life and reduce their feelings of loneliness.

We love to hear stories of change from our volunteers and the people who use our services, about how they’re building great relationships, growing in confidence and how their wellbeing is improving by accessing support.

Here we celebrate two great stories from our Community Services in the North East.

Mike and Saeed

Joanne, Mike and Saeed

Mike is 80 years old and lives alone. He worked in a professional role until the age of 75, when he retired. He was looking forward to spending more time with his wife during retirement, but she died not long after. Mike was devastated — they had been together for more than 50 years.

So, he looked for some bereavement support to help him come to terms with his wife’s death. While the service did help him, it was time limited, so came to an end after a few weeks. Then he suffered a leg injury and found himself housebound, looking for interaction and companionship.

Mike came across the Independent Age website and contacted his local team, who quickly matched him with Joanne, a Visitor Volunteer. He also started to receive regular telephone calls from one of our Telephone Volunteers. He struck up great friendships with both his volunteers, before and during the pandemic lockdowns. He still chats with them on the phone now.

“No matter where they are or what they are doing, they would always call me on the dot every week. It started off as just having someone to talk to, but now it is a special friendship. We talk about all sorts of things and it’s great for me to have some form of companionship again,” says Mike.

He’s recently got involved in our new Community Services and been very keen to speak about his experiences of helping Independent Age with our Grief Encounters work — he was involved in our conference, where he learnt to use Zoom. Mike’s been putting his newly developed Zoom skills to good use by taking part in a local research project about developing community services for older men. He feels empowered and wants to help improve the support available for other people in similar situations.

We’ve also matched Mike with Community Services Volunteer Saeed, to help motivate and encourage him to do gentle exercises at home. Mike would really like to improve his mobility so that he can get out driving again and get back to his pastimes of swimming and going to the gym. Saeed quickly set about devising an exercise plan with Mike, which was received with much enthusiasm. The pair are making fantastic progress and are on track to reach Mike’s goal of getting back out into his community.

Saeed said, “Mike has made tremendous progress and can now get out of his chair and use a walking stick to dash about the house. I’m really pleased with his progress.”

Pat and Marianne

Pat and Marianne

Say hello to Marilyn Monroe — otherwise known as Pat — and Marianne.

Pat is an older person from the North East who, until she met Marianne, was lonely and living in isolation. Pat is recently bereaved, and the isolation brought about by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns meant her mood and confidence dropped considerably. Pat’s physical health also declined because she wasn’t exercising, so she became unsteady and frail.

Marianne is a new volunteer and took up a Community Service Volunteer role with us with great enthusiasm. Within a few weeks of meeting, Marianne and Pat had great rapport and felt ready to venture out into the community.

Using Marianne’s local knowledge, they found a chair-based exercise group. Feeling supported and motivated by Marianne, Pat went along with an open mind. When she left the class, Pat asked how she could sign up for more! Pat is excited to try other things as well, including attending a tea dance nearby, which will stir emotions for her because she and her husband used to ballroom dance together regularly.

As Pat’s confidence is increasing, so too is her physical strength. The members of the exercise class and the instructor were very welcoming, which helped Pat to engage with them. She’s hoping to form new friendships over time.

Without Marianne’s support this might not have happened. Marianne shows how important every volunteer is to the people we support and how a volunteer’s dedication can improve and enhance a person’s life every day.

Get involved

If you would like to work alongside an older person and support them to reconnect with their community and achieve their goals, we’re looking for Community Volunteers in Essex, Nottingham and Tyne & Wear and Teesside. Find out more and apply today.

If you’re based somewhere else in the UK and would like to get involved, visit our website in the coming months, when we hope to have more roles available.

If you know of someone over the age of 65 who might benefit from our Community Services in Essex, Nottingham and Tyne & Wear and Teesside, you can find out more and make a referral on our website.

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We’re here to challenge ageism and discrimination and tackle the inequalities that exist in older age. We focus our resources on the critical areas of health and care, loneliness and poverty and concentrate our efforts where we will have the greatest impact and reach.

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