What was the issue you were addressing or working on?
The aim of the Community Links Project is to provide support for isolated elderly people aged over 65 years that are living in the Midlothian area.
What you did?
The project is operated by Volunteer Centre Midlothian (VCM) and operates from the VCM offices in Dalkeith. It is delivered by two Local Area Coordinators who work on a job share basis, each working 20 hours per week. The project currently supports around fifty clients.A separate service for clients with dementia is also run by VCM.
This service is funded as part of the Midlothian demonstrator site for implementation of the Scottish Dementia Strategy. Both services are publicised through a variety of media including leaflets, posters, VCM website and e-bulletins, Twitter, volunteer recruitment events, local newspapers, radio and word of mouth (including volunteers who act as ‘project ambassadors’).
- Reawakening skills (including knitting, crochet, art, writing, baking, playing an instrument)
- Skills sharing (both client and befriender)
- Reconnecting with groups/organisations
- Connecting with other projects e.g. Connect Online, Transform
- Participating in new pilot groups/organisations
- Light physical activity: walking short distance on a ‘good’ day
- Visiting local cafes, visitor attractions, local shops
- Visiting city venues e.g. multiplex cinema (new experience), shopping complex
What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?
Clients are matched with Community Links volunteer befrienders, community connectors and/or groups. It uses one-to-one befriending, group work and/or community connecting to connect older people to social activities and enable them to:
- maximise the natural support they receive from their local community and stay connected to that community
- maintain and build on their existing social networks
- reduce their isolation and any feelings of loneliness
- increase a sense of confidence and self-worth
- maintain or improve their well-being and quality of life
- increase their motivation to be active
It is also able to signpost to other services when it comes to health and well-being and other issues which fall outwith the agreed volunteer role.