Guild Care chief executive talks about the charity’s new service for over-65s and how you can help as a volunteer

With the country slowly reaching some kind of ‘new normal’, our charity has been considering how we can help the local community going forward.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 2:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 2:54 pm

If you are not aware, Guild Care’s vision is to deliver innovative and life-changing care services which help older people, children and adults with learning disabilities, and those living with dementia and their carers, to share and enjoy a richer family and community life.

With the new preferences and needs of the post-pandemic world, the ways in which we achieve this will have to be different from what we have done before.

One specific question we have asked ourselves is how we can help reduce loneliness and isolation in Worthing’s older population in this new world. They have always been issues but have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Creating Connections will be co-designed by people aged 65 plus for people aged 65 plus
Creating Connections will be co-designed by people aged 65 plus for people aged 65 plus

Thanks to funding from West Sussex County Council, we have answered this question with a new community service due to launch at the beginning of July, called Creating Connections.

Creating Connections is a new and exciting prevention service for those aged 65 and over. It will aim to reduce loneliness and isolation in Worthing through companionship, shared interests, and community participation. It is hoped that by reducing social isolation and loneliness, we can contribute to supporting people to remain living independently, for as long as possible.

The service will provide a volunteer-led range of Worthing-based opportunities and activities co-designed by people aged 65 plus for people aged 65 plus. Specifically, it will include one-to-one befriending and companionship via the phone, in the community, and in people’s homes; weekly face-to-face group activities, such as seated exercise, music, photography, quizzes, and book clubs; monthly social events, including Sunday lunch and Saturday social events at our Bradbury Wellbeing Centre; and a virtual Friendship Club, which will offer a range of online activities accessible from home.

We will provide a three-month programme of taster sessions from July to September 2021. If you would like to register your interest, please contact our customer service team, email [email protected] or call 01903 327327.

Alex Brooks-Johnson, chief executive of Guild Care

As I said, this service will be volunteer led. Therefore, we are currently looking for three types of volunteers to help make Creating Connections possible – One-to-one Befrienders, Meet and Greeters, and Small Group Leaders.

One-to-one Befrienders will help the service’s members connect with others through weekly telephone contact or companionship visits. Meet and Greeters will welcome people taking part in group activity sessions, including serving refreshments and keeping an attendance register. Small Group Leaders will co-ordinate activity sessions, enabling people to feel at home and engage with their chosen activities.

Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do which benefits both the volunteer and their beneficiaries. We recently sent a survey out to all our volunteers, one of the questions of which was what benefits they had taken from volunteering. Responses included ‘meeting people, making friends’, ‘giving something back to the community’, ‘keeps me active!’, ‘spending time with residents and listening to their stories’, and ‘helping to make a difference for those needing support’.

If you would like to become a volunteer, please contact one of our volunteer co-ordinators, email [email protected]