Community Links Project Update, Midlothian

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

The Community Links Project’s aim is to provide support for isolated older people, aged over 65 years, living in the Midlothian area to enable them to stay connected to their local community and maintain and build on existing social networks and opportunities.

The full Community Links Project, Midlothian Example of Practice (Update) is available here  It is an update of the original Example of Practice published in 2013, which can be accessed here

What you did?

The Project is run by Volunteer Centre Midlothian and was developed initially by two Local Area Coordinators.  It was enhanced by (and adapted to incorporate) the addition of a Local Area Coordinator specialising in Dementia who joined the team in June 2012; this was part of the Dementia Demonstrator site for the implementation of the Scottish Dementia Strategy.

It has 4 main activities:

  1. Provision of volunteer befrienders for isolated older people
  2. Sourcing, recruiting and training Community Links volunteers to befriend isolated older people
  3. Coordinate and support Community Links volunteers
  4. Working in partnership with other organisations to encourage isolated older people in Midlothian to participate in activities at home or in their local community with the support of a befriender.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

In the period November 2013 – April 2014:

  • 29 isolated people and 15 socially isolated carers were involved in befriending matches, the target is 50 for the year.
  • 23 people were in the process of being matched
  • Feedback to date indicates that 90% of those currently involved in a match (clients and carers) report that they have witnessed an improvement in their mental health and well being,
  • 29 volunteers were recruited, trained and PVG-ed, with 16 in process
  • The team is working with 20 organisations across Midlothian
  • It has assisted the British Red Cross in sourcing volunteers
  • It has assisted in the sourcing of volunteers for a poetry group and a possible new men’s cookery group
  • It has provided 1:1 support to all its volunteers
  • It has supported volunteers referred from others within the Volunteer Centre

The full Community Links Project, Midlothian Example of Practice (Update) is available here

Contacts - to find out more

Roisin Fitzsimons, Older People’s Services Manager, 0131 660 1216

More information can be found on their website