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jane dabbs

The Big Rethink: Janet Dabbs

CEO Age UK, Bath and North East Somerset

If you’d asked me four months ago if our staff team could have shipped out of our office in Kingsmead Square and our clubs in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton and decamped to their kitchen tables, bedrooms and still managed to support thousands of older people I would have said it was impossible.

…But it’s been done and I’m immensely proud of them, they have been so flexible and committed to make life a little more bearable for older people.

It’s been a very challenging time for older people – not only in B&NES but all over the UK – and as a staff team it’s been hard listening to stories of people being acutely lonely, bereaved, depressed and scared, but we’ve managed to deliver almost daily support over the telephone, delivered hot meals, continued offering information and advice, including benefit checks, and in a number of cases still go into homes where older people need extra support.

It’s been a very challenging time for older people – not only in B&NES but all over the UK – and as a staff team it’s been hard listening to stories of people being acutely lonely, bereaved, depressed and scared…

One of the highlights was the VE Day Singing Bus which took out Spangle who sang to as many people as she could, along with delivering positivity packs which included puzzles, scrumptious cupcakes, games and bubbles to improve lung capacity. We started our Garden Chats in June, which have been a lifesaver to so many and we are planning to take these through the summer and into the early autumn.

Our youngest volunteer, six-year-old Scarlett initiated the pen pals project, and we now have a number of young people who’ve joined in writing to older people. We’ve over 100 brand new volunteers on top of our original 200 which means we can support even more older people.

Our youngest volunteer, six-year-old Scarlett initiated the pen pals project, and we now have a number of young people who’ve joined in writing to older people…

Next week we will start to deliver our on-line dementia club, which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our Click Café volunteers who have been connecting people to wifi and explaining how to use equipment, which is not always easy over the telephone.

People are desperate to get back to ‘normal’ and we’ll be opening our clubs as soon as we can. Supporting older people to use technology was always in our plans, but it has never been so vital and our main focus is to give older people the skills and equipment they need to be connected with the things that are important to them.

ageuk.org.uk

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