“The older people attending ‘care and connect’ sometimes come looking sad, lost and lonely. The transformation achieved from the regular period of contact, care and support is heart warming, and so vital .”
Care and Connect is a simple concept of a monthly opportunity for older isolated people who have, whether in the past or present, an association with St Thomas’s Church, Salisbury, to meet up for a time to chat, pray, reflect and share food.
In a nutshell:
Many of the older people who have been, or are (as much as they can be) members of the congregation of St Thomas’s Church, find themselves with very small networks of support, be that family, friends or from the wider community. Additionally, many have mobility issues resulting from the natural frailties of old age, or from dementia, failing eye-sight and other health problems. Care and Connect provides a trusted, regular, loving and supportive opportunity for these older people to come together to socialise, not just with other older people, but with leaders and volunteers from St Thomas’s. This city centre church takes very seriously its role of ‘looking out’ for these older people, checking if there are health and care issues that are not being followed up, noticing symptoms of decline and then attempting to respond to these with extra help and support. The monthly opportunities to connect through the acts of sharing food, friendship and prayer have become a lifeline for many of the older isolated people associated with St Thomas’s.
What makes this project special: A recent Age UK survey showed more than one million people aged over 65 are often or always lonely, with two-fifths saying that their main form of company is the television. In Wiltshire, social isolation was ranked 1st out of 80 local concerns by the public. Many of the churches in Salisbury are well placed with structures of leadership, strong volunteer networks and physical assets such as halls with kitchens, to provide the sort of hospitality, welcome and socialisation opportunities for older people who might otherwise struggle to access:
- care and connection in the form of love and support that may no longer be a consistent feature in an older person’s life, whether due to a dwindling family, friends or social network;
- opportunities to socialise with the wider community (Care and Connect starts off with bringing the older people into the Tuesday Coffee Morning which many young, and old, residents and visitors come to every week)
- times to reflect and pray in a supportive church setting
- a good meal, prepared by others, shared sometimes with up to 30 other people – providing a chance to make new friends, renew old friendships, a nutrient boost and a demonstration of care from a trusted part of the community
- the time, care and skill of others to help with worrying health or wellbeing issues. Many of the volunteers working on this project are able to provide sometimes the simple reassurances required, or more informed opinions to seek medical attention
Find out more:
Contact St Thomas’s Church http://www.stthomassalisbury.co.uk/
Support from your local community engagement manager: 01722 434697