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£6 million for Leeds to reduce social isolation of older people

Leeds’ most socially isolated older people are to benefit from a £6 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund which will also help pave the way for support for future older generations.

Leeds Older People’s Forum (LOPF) has been awarded £5,985,918 over six years, to lead a partnership of voluntary, statutory and private sector organisations to help older people who are restricted to their homes thorough disability, dementia, physical or mental ill health, carers, living alone and coping with bereavement, retirement or poverty. The money will be available from July 2015.

The funding will enable the partnership to identify more isolated older people through neighbours, friends, volunteers, GPs or local businesses and create more opportunities for social contact.

The project will:
• Promote Leeds as an age-friendly city,
• Develop inter-generational links,
• Improve connections with older people from street level upwards,
• Provide support and friendships at home,
• Increase number of volunteers in local communities

It is an opportunity to build on the excellent work already being done across Leeds and focus on the more vulnerable, hard to reach people.
More people are at risk of becoming isolated as the population of older people grows, lacking contact with family or friends, community involvement or access to services. The consequences of social isolation are poor physical and mental health for individuals, less active citizens and a need for more costly services. With its Ageing Better investment, the Big Lottery Fund wants older people to be happier, healthier and more active, contributing even more to their communities.

Leeds is one of 15 successful areas (selected from an original pool of 100) in England to be awarded funding from the Big Lottery Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme. The programme is investing £82 million across the UK to reduce social isolation amongst older people.

Bill Rollinson, Chair of Leeds’ Older People’s Forum, said:

“Older people in Leeds need not become socially isolated as an inevitable consequence of ageing. This funding will enable us to identify many more isolated older people, whether this is through their neighbours, friends, GPs or local businesses, and create more opportunities for social contact. Our project, ‘Out of the Shadows: Time to Shine’, will support those most vulnerable to social isolation by providing a wide range of fun social opportunities, friendly visiting and volunteering opportunities in neighbourhoods and in the home.
“A city-wide campaign will raise awareness and reduce the stigma of loneliness and training will give both professionals and members of local communities the skills and knowledge to support isolated older people.
“Older people aren’t merely recipients of services, they manage many of our voluntary organisations by serving on management committees, by volunteering and others take on important roles such as caring for relatives. We want to promote and celebrate this contribution through our project and develop a city in which older people are valued.”

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