Mental Health Awareness Week – volunteering to help older people who are experiencing loneliness
From assisting with telephone helplines to becoming a Digital Buddy, this Mental Health Awareness Week we look at ways in which you can volunteer to help older people who may be experiencing the effects of loneliness.
Monday 9 May to Sunday 15 May marks Mental Health Awareness Week. For 2022, the week focuses on exploring the experience of loneliness, its effect on our wellbeing and how you can play a part in reducing loneliness in your community.
Loneliness can have a serious effect on mental health and whilst it can affect anyone of any age, it is a particular problem with older people. According to Age UK, 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely, and more than a million say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
In the UK there are a range of charities that work to support older people who are isolated and experiencing the effects of loneliness. This Mental Health Awareness Week ICAS is encouraging its staff to consider using their ‘Giving Back’ days to volunteer with one of these charities, and we're highlighting the range of opportunities available to Members and CA Students to get involved within their communities - some of which you'll find below.
It's worth remembering that not only will you be providing valuable support to someone who may currently be struggling, volunteering can also provide you with range of benefits, such as boosting your confidence and improving your communication skills.
And if you're experiencing loneliness yourself, the volunteering process can be a great way to expand your network and make new friends and connections.
Age UK offers a range of services to help combat loneliness in later life. You can volunteer to assist its Silver Line telephone friendship service, its localised face-to-face befriending service or by becoming an Age UK digital buddy and helping older people to get online.
Befriending Networks offers supportive, reliable relationships through volunteer befrienders to people, including older people, who would otherwise be socially isolated.
Cyrenians’ Golden Years service provides an innovative befriending/community-connecting service with diverse options to help tackle isolation and loneliness for the over 60s in Edinburgh.
They always have a range of volunteer opportunities, from admin roles to helping with companionship and cooking.
Glasgow’s Golden Generation
Glasgow’s Golden Generation has been providing a Befriending Service to older adults in Glasgow since 1948. Trained volunteer Befrienders are matched with older adults with similar interests and visit their befriendee weekly in their own home or in the community.
Community volunteers with Independent Age play an essential role in helping older people to live well and remain independent.
MHA provides telephone, online and face-to-face befriending services for older people across England, Scotland and Wales to help tackle feelings of loneliness and isolation. They have a range of volunteering opportunities including befrienders, drivers and shoppers.
Reengage provides social connections for older people at a time in their lives when their social circles are diminishing. You can volunteer to help with organising their local tea parties or assisting their telephone service.
The Cares Family
The Cares Family brings older and younger people together – to share time, laughter, new experiences and friendship – so that everyone can feel part of our changing cities, rather than feeling left behind by them. You can get involved through one of their five local charities – North London Cares, South London Cares, Manchester Cares, Liverpool Cares and East London Cares.
Vintage Vibes is an award-winning project tackling isolation and loneliness in Edinburgh. Vintage Vibes' volunteers create long-lasting one-to-one friendships offering support, companionship and the opportunity for lonely 'VIPs' to be more socially connected and active in their local community.
Are you an older person experiencing loneliness?
If you are an older person experiencing the effects of loneliness, here are some resources and information to help.
You can also connect with the charities listed below: