Older people are tackling loneliness together in west Leeds

A weekly supper club in west Leeds is helping older people socialise and combat loneliness.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 1:54 pm
Dawn Newsome, chief executive of Armley Helping Hands, at the supper club, with Maureen Wheelan, pictured left.

The Winter Warmth Supper Club, at New Wortley Community Centre, is not just about food.

It brings people together and gives a good excuse to get out and share an evening meal as well as conversation.

The Winter Warmth Supper Club run by Armley Helping Hands, pictured L-R Maureen Wheelan, Rita Walker and Margaret Lavely and activity worker Janice Turnbull.

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It is just one of the many activities available from Armley Helping Hands, which is one of 35 networks across Leeds, offering support for older people to help reduce isolation.

They enjoy trips out, coffee mornings, talks, lunch clubs, sport and leisure activities and much more.

To mark Loneliness Week, from 17-21 June, the Yorkshire Evening Post is highlighting positive stories of what is being done in the battle to prevent social isolation.

Dawn Newsome, chief executive of Armley Helping Hands, said: “Older people in our city have the skills to engage, and thanks to the support of Neighbourhood Networks funding, most areas are covered.

“But the next generation of baby boomers, in their 50s and 60s, might struggle to socialise.

“They are beset with social problems such as divorce, mental health issues, plus the use of social media, and although it has its plus points for keeping in touch with people, it can often leave people home alone with their phone or tablet.

“I was travelling by train yesterday and I noticed that everyone had their head down looking at their phone. No one smiles or says hello anymore.

“Society is changing dramatically. People are living longer, our culture is shifting and life is different from the one we knew.”

“The key thing for us is early intervention, prevention and reducing social isolation,” says Dawn about the charity that was established in 1995.

“We try to encourage older people to have an active lifestyle.

“It’s one of our biggest fears that if you are not with someone, you will be on your own.”

She said the Neighbourhood Networks, funded by Leeds City Council, were recognised nationally for their pioneering work to support older people living in their own homes.

Rooted in their local communities, help they give includes luncheon clubs, dementia cafes, gardening, shopping, befriending, money advice, advocacy and a wide range of leisure and fitness activities.

The network supports around 20,000 older people around the city, delivering support which helps reduce pressures on statutory health and care services, as well as enabling local people to get involved in using community assets in ways local people want.

More details about Armley Helping Hands at www.armleyhelpinghands.org.uk