By 2066, there will be a further 8.6 million people in the UK aged 65 and over. An unfortunate pairing that has been found to come with old age is loneliness. According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than 1 million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
Although likely to affect older people, loneliness doesn’t discriminate and can affect all of us. Since the pandemic started, there has been a rise in loneliness across all generations. Thankfully, there are wonderful charities and organisations out there specialising in befriending that are trying to combat the struggles that loneliness can cause.
Assist is a free service which aims to empower people and support those experiencing difficulties so that they can get back on their feet. They are available to people in Cherry Willingham, Fiskerton, Reepham, Welton, Dunholme, Nettleham, Sudbrooke and Scothern as well as the North Lincoln area such as Ermine and St Giles.
They provide support to anyone over the age of 18 years old who are lonely, recovering from illness or accident and people who need to get back on track after a setback in life. Their volunteers support people through depression, bereavement, breakdown in family relationships, people who need encouragement and friendship or just need advice.
They can visit you at home but also help you get out and about to rebuild your confidence. As well as working with you one-to-one either in person or on the telephone, they also provide services such as The Gathering Place. This is a wellbeing space open on Wednesdays between 1-4pm at the Vine Centre (Library) in Cherry Willingham. They provide free refreshments and snacks and offer a space for you to breathe and take a moment in a relaxing environment. You can sit quietly, have a chat, take part in arts & crafts and guided meditations, or even just read your favourite book.
They also run a dementia support group before the wellbeing session on Wednesday mornings between 10am and 12noon. These sessions are for those living with dementia, or dementia related issues, as well as for their family/carers and offer a wide range of creative, fun and stimulating activities for people to get involved in.
“We have been running our service now for just over 8 years and have seen the need grow tremendously – particularly over the last 2 years with the Covid Pandemic.” Explains Jenny, Assist Scheme Co-ordinator, “More and more people have found themselves feeling lonely, isolated, or simply in need of some support in life.”
“We are eternally grateful for the wonderful volunteers we have.” Adds Adele, Assist Project Worker, “They help us to help those who need the services of Assist – whether short or longer term. And, of course, this work wouldn’t be able to happen without us being able to source continued grant funding to make it possible.”
Assist are always in need of volunteers and any time you can give up, even if it is as little as an hour a fortnight, is greatly appreciated and you could help change a life. You also do not need to be local as volunteers for the telephone befriending service are always needed.
If you would like to get in touch with Assist, you can email them firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call on 01522 370164. You can also visit your GP and mention Assist’s befriending services or visit their website www.assistlincs.org.uk to find out more.