Fulfilled living in later life

Friday 21st June 2024

Empowering communities to care – roundtable

Earlier this month we hosted a roundtable discussion in Westminster with like-minded organisations to explore the themes raised in our ‘Empowering communities to care’ document

Pilgrims Friend Empowering Communities Stephen

The document sets out ways to unlock local resources and transform how our society cares for an ageing population. In summary, we need to: Champion and value the role of volunteers; encourage the private and charity sector; integrate the delivery of social care; endow legitimacy to community entrepreneurs.

The event was chaired by our Chief Executive Stephen Hammersley with speakers from different organisations sharing their perspectives. Kavid Ali from grant-making organisation UK Communities Foundations emphasised the importance of working with local people, noting “a little bit of money goes a long way”.

Maggie Dodd, Anna Chaplaincy’s Lead Chaplain for St Albans, highlighted the vital role Anna Chaplains have in reaching older people in the community, be they of strong, little or no faith. She shared the story of Margaret, an older lady who moved into the area to be near family. Margaret saw her family a couple of times a week but was otherwise isolated and needed to make new friends. The Anna Chaplains were able to connect her with local services and activities.

We also heard from Mary Northway representing Linking Lives Eastbourne. As a GP in Hailsham, she sees firsthand the impact loneliness can have on health. Home visits account for 65% of time spent by Linking Lives volunteers. The charity also runs a telephone befriending service. Mary noted that 80% of volunteers are over 60 and that volunteering can also play an important role in preventing loneliness for volunteers.

Pilgrims Friend Empowering Communities Roundtable1
Pilgrims Friend Empowering Communities Roundtable2
Pilgrims Friend Empowering Communities Roundtable3

Andrew Wileman from The Salvation Army also recognised the significant contribution made by older people themselves. He said, “Challenging ageism will be one of the big calls of our time. We need to recognise that older congregations are the largest lifeblood of the church… An older church is not a failing church.”

He also highlighted the importance of organisations joining together, sharing how a dementia-friendly café takes place at The Salvation Army’s Regent Hall in Oxford Street, supported by Age UK.

Georgie Patch from Keychange spoke of how successful volunteering partnerships can be forged with younger people, sharing how students from Southampton University are supporting older members of the community. Benjamin Dowling, also from Keychange, shared how the charity is considering how it can extend person-centred support to those beyond the care homes and community centres it runs.

In between speakers were discussion times, with those around the tables sharing their thoughts and then feeding back to the whole group.

With the election very soon, we’re praying that voters will consider the proposed policies of the respective parties as they relate to older people and social care. We hope our new Government will take note of the themes explored in ‘Empowering communities to care’ and make the most of the wealth of local knowledge that exists in communities nationwide.