For this week’s guest blog, Lorna Bryson, OPAL Service Coordinator, writes on the difficulties older people face in reconnecting with people in the community.
The festive season is upon us once more and for most of us this is a happy time when we are out shopping for our nearest and dearest, stocking up on the food for the Christmas dinner and catching up with work colleagues, family and friends. Joyful Christmas music is playing, there are decorations and beautiful lights all around and the numerous adverts on the TV tell us ‘holidays are coming’ and that ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’.
Unfortunately, for many this is not the case – this time of year can be the most difficult, reminding us of a time when we had family and friends who sat around the table eating together, laughing, joking, pulling Christmas crackers, telling silly jokes and wearing party hats.
Last year, Age Scotland reported that 230,000 older people in the UK would spend at least one day over the Christmas period alone. More astonishing than this was that 530,000 over 65’s were not looking forward to the season, citing it as ‘just another day’. Many of these people have lost loved ones; for some their families have moved away; others are isolated purely due to poor health and mobility.
Trying to re-connect with people in your community can seem daunting in your 30’s or 40’s but at 70 or 80 years old in this digital age, meeting new people and making friends can seem impossible. Self-confidence can be low and often we hear questions like:
Who makes friends at our age?
Where can I go to socialise or meet people?
How would I get there?
At Cyrenians OPAL (Older People, Active Lives) service in West Lothian, our volunteers work alongside people age 60+ in West Lothian to build up their confidence, enabling them to socialise, get out more, try new things, re-connect with their community and generally enjoy life.
The service provides weekly/fortnightly one to one support either face to face or via the telephone, dependent on the needs of the individual. Whether it’s getting out for a walk, using public transport, joining the local library, getting along to a local group or simply just some light conversation we can help.
In addition to the one-to-one support we also have 13 community groups and anyone over the age of 60 is welcome. Activities vary from entertainers, speakers, afternoon teas, games, quizzes and much more.
“You’re never too old to have some fun”
If you would like to find out more about the OPAL Service and how it may be able to help you or someone you know, or if you would like to enquire about volunteering, then drop in to our office at 27 George Street, Bathgate, EH48 1PG, call 01506 815 815 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This winter, we have been sharing the stories of those we’ve journeyed with in the past year for our #12tales campaign. They provide a glimpse of the many hardships and tough realities people face, and the transformational self-directed change that a listening ear and a helping hand can make possible. Check out our latest story on our social media channels – Alec’s Story – today.