Supporting the older generation

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


London Telephone Communities for Older People is about bringing the older generation together in groups on the phone to create networks of support for those living with loneliness and social isolation. Many of the people we connect together via Telephone Communities can't leave their homes because of ill health, mobility difficulties or simply because they don't have the confidence to go to face to face activities in their local area. Often they are carers for loved ones, have suffered bereavement or have lost touch with friends and families.

Loneliness, isolation and not feeling part of a community, group of friends or family can chip away at confidence and self-esteem. This makes it harder to talk to others, meet new people or attend social events. Feeling lonely and socially isolated is not only unpleasant, but also carries a social stigma and a risk to health.

• Loneliness is as poisonous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
• It is twice as harmful as obesity
• It has been linked to increased rates of heart disease and dementia
• Loneliness can also lead to depression

Many of the older people we work with don’t see another person from week to week. Disability, ill health, caring for a relative or simply having become disconnected from friends and family all make it difficult for people to link socially to their peers.

“I live in sheltered housing but don’t spend time with anyone else…they are all too young and the things they do are not fun for me, like bingo. I can talk to people my own age on the group. It’s interesting. I like it.” Mo, 86.

Members meet up in groups on the phone on a weekly or fortnightly basis, allowing them to connect safely to their peers from the comfort of their own home. All they have to do is be sitting by a phone and pick it up when it rings. A friendly telephone operator then connects them to their group. Our members are people who don’t have the luxury of using the Internet to stay in touch with friends and family, and who would struggle dialling into a conference number so using a managed conferencing service makes it safe, free and easy to take part in. Once connect they chat for up to an hour about things that interest them from current affairs to specific topics.

Each group is looked after by a trained volunteer who takes part in every call, making sure it’s safe and everyone is able to have their say. Group members are called regularly by a member of the team at Community Network to check they are happy in their group, and to see if they need any further support.

Telephone Communities and the contact they bring make a real difference to those who belong to them.

Bernard is a member of a London Telephone Communities groups. He is 93, suffers from diabetes, arthritis and when the isolation and loneliness takes over he becomes depressed. All of this makes it difficult for Bernard to leave his home and attend local activities. His telephone group cals are his life line to the outside world, allowing him contact with a number of people he now considers his friends.

The simple contact offered by Telephone Communities improves health, well-being, reduces feelings of loneliness and changes lives.

“It makes me feel like I’m part of the world. Makes me feel like I’m not forgotten.” Dave 77.

“All my life I’ve had problems trusting people and now I feel more confident to talk and open up.” May, 70.

With your help we can continue to provide Telephone Communities groups to 42 vulnerable, older people, allowing them to stay connected and part of a community of their choosing until the end of the year.

Community Network

Location: London

Our Telephone Communities are by older people and for older people, groups are owned by their members and we provide the platform for people to connect and support others. We see people who are shy, vulnerable and lonely come alive, be active and be an active part of their chosen communities.
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