Age UK Southampton, an independent local charity set up to support people aged 50+ in the local area, has received a donation of £5,000 from the Barker-Mill Foundation (BMF). This will provide funding for one of the charities core services, the Information & Advice service, which provides an accessible point of contact for older people seeking help and advice on a wide range of issues.
The charity has found that over half of those aged 75 and over live alone and 19% of older people have contact with friends or family less than once a week. Therefore, the Information & Advice service provides a crucial outreach service for users in the area, contributing to Age UK Southampton’s aim to positively improve the quality of life for older people by making them feel empowered and in control.
The service is accessible five days a week by telephone, e mail or dropping into the charity’s office. The donation from BMF is the equivalent of providing the service to 125 vulnerable older people in Southampton, and will enable the charity to keep running the service over the next year.
Peter Bennie, Chief Officer from Age UK Southampton, said: “We offer a range of services designed to alleviate loneliness and isolation, improve health and wellbeing and encourage independent living. Our aim is to positively improve the quality of life for older people by making them feel empowered and in control.
“With a projected 17% increase in Southampton’s older population by 2024, the demand for our services is rising rapidly, so we rely on the generous help of our supporters by donations, leaving a gift in their will, fundraising and raising awareness.
“We are therefore extremely grateful to the Barker-Mill Foundation for generously donating £5,000 to help us to continue to provide our well used Information & Advice service. It will enable us to keep the service running, ensuring it is always free to all who need it regardless of their financial situation, as well as grow the service in response to the needs of the community.”
The Information & Advice service team is made up of two part time members of staff and a team of volunteers who are highly trained and have extensive experience of supporting older people. The team provide advice and assistance on a variety of different topics including general advice and benefits guidance, for example; Attendance Allowance which can have a massive impact on the quality of an older person’s life, and simple things like knowing they can afford to put the heating on in cold weather. The team are able to identify multiple needs and always follow up and monitor each assessment.
Tim Jobling, BMF Trustee, said: “The issue of loneliness amongst older people has become more profound in recent years and with the projected increase in the older population, demand for valuable services that Age UK Southampton and other similar charities provide will be higher.
“The Information & Advice line has proven invaluable to the older people that utilize the skills and knowledge of the team behind it, and we hope that the BMF donation will allow for its expansion throughout the next year as well as continue to provide support and advice to its current users”.
Age UK Southampton equips vulnerable older people with the skills and information to maintain their independence and develop the ability to self-manage impending life changes such as ill health, changed in housing or the death of a partner or spouse. Through early intervention they can reduce demands for health and social care services and support people to maintain their independence and stay in their own home for longer.
For further information about Age UK Southampton, please visit: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/southampton/information-and-advice/