CHARITY OF THE WEEK: Supporting Older People providing help to the elderly across the Harrogate district who are feeling isolated after lockdown

Charities across the Harrogate district have had a tough couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we want to highlight those who need your help and support in 2022.

By Lucy Chappell
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 1:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th February 2022, 2:07 pm

Supporting Older People is a registered charity helping to alleviate loneliness and isolation often experienced by older people living on their own across the district.

The organisation offers a number of services including a befriending scheme, tea and talk, dining out club, outings and a movement and music group.

Their core work is the befriending scheme where they recruit and support suitable volunteers who then visit older isolated people on a regular basis, providing companionship and support to the person to get out and about, help with a hobby or interest or just have a chat over a cup of tea.

Supporting Older People is a registered charity helping to alleviate loneliness and isolation often experienced by older people living on their own across the district

Kate Rogata, Director of Supporting Older People, admits that their services were vital during the Covid-19 pandemic and many people would have struggled without them.

She said: “In March 2020 we were supporting 200 older people and had 100 amazing volunteers but when lockdown was announced, we realised that we couldn’t continue with our face-to-face befriending and group activities.

“We were very quickly able to set up a telephone befriending, shopping and prescription collecting service and an additional 100 volunteers joined us, many of whom were furloughed from their jobs.

“At its peak, volunteers were making over 400 phone calls a week to isolated older people and this service was a lifeline to people who saw no one for months.”

Supporting Older People is a registered charity helping to alleviate loneliness and isolation often experienced by older people living on their own across the district

In response to demand, they also began a project providing food and essentials to anyone who was struggling to put food on the table.

Volunteers distributed 650 bags of groceries and over 12,000 fresh meals.

In July 2021, they began a gradual return to their core work and now support 300 people and have 150 volunteers, supporting people to regain confidence lost in the pandemic so that they can rejoin the world and get back involved with their activities.

Kate Rogata, Director of Supporting Older People, admits that their services were vital during the Covid-19 pandemic and many people would have struggled without them

Kate added: “In terms of funding it has been a very challenging period.

“We were very fortunate to receive a lot of Covid related emergency funding in 2020 and 2021 but as that dried up, there was greater competition for the available funding both in the county and nationally.

“We have a small contract with North Yorkshire County Council but the rest of our income comes from grants and fundraising.

“At a time of increased demand with limited fundraising opportunities, we were extremely concerned about our future in mid-2021.

Supporting Older People is a registered charity helping to alleviate loneliness and isolation often experienced by older people living on their own across the district

“However, thanks to support from North Yorkshire County Council and funders such as the Two Ridings’ Foundation, together with the amazing efforts of our team, trustees and supporters, our position is now much healthier, but we need to keep the momentum going.”

Supporting Older People would not be able to carry out the vital work that they do without their brilliant and hard working volunteers.

Volunteers offer support and friendship, usually on a weekly basis and this contact makes a lasting difference, raises self-esteem, maintains independence and greatly improves the quality of life for the older person.

Kate added: “We have a waiting list of 30 older people who are waiting to be matched with a befriender and we would love to hear from anyone who has an hour a week to spare to make a huge difference to someone’s life.”

Supporting Older People turn 40 this year and will be celebrating by hosting an anniversary dinner and fundraising evening in July.

There are lots of ways that people can support their work, whether that’s taking part in this year’s Nidderdale Walk, buying tickets for the Local Lotto, joining their 100 club or being part of their fundraising group.

The simplest way to support the charity is to make a donation via their Givey page by heading to https://www.givey.com/sop

The team at Supporting Older People know that demand for their services will continue to grow and want to still be here to help older people across the Harrogate district in another 40 years.