A Thanet project to combat loneliness and isolation is one of five across the UK to scoop a £50,000 award.
Thanet Community Support Partnership (TCSP), part of Kent Coast Volunteering, was picked from 200 charities to pilot a new approach to age-friendly, inclusive volunteering.
The project has received funding from the Centre for Ageing Better and Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport in order to marry up TCSP’s flagship central referrals service, which helps the isle’s older residents access the support and leisure services they need, with the charity’s volunteer outreach service, which matches individuals with volunteering roles within the Thanet community.
Project Co-ordinator Chris Scutt said: “We are absolutely delighted that our project has been selected, especially given that there were so many other excellent proposals.”
“We noticed that many users of our referrals service would actually make great volunteers and could themselves benefit from the rewards that volunteering had to offer. They just had barriers which prevented them from participating fully.
“The money will help us trial new ways of enabling those who get in touch with us for support, to get involved in the rich variety of volunteer-run community projects in Thanet”.
The Centre for Ageing Better awarded £250,000 of Government funding to five projects in North Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, East Sussex, London and Kent.
The aim of the fund was to develop good practice approaches that will help to promote and sustain the efforts of people over-50 who might face challenges to being involved in formal volunteering roles or who help their friends and neighbours in other ways which may not be recognised.
Mr Scutt said: “People call us for a range of reasons. It may be that they don’t have friends or family, and would like to join our Good Neighbours (befriending) Service; they may need a gardener; or help with form-filling for a welfare benefit they are entitled to. As well as helping find them the support they require, we will now be able to see if they would like to volunteer when the time is right for them.”
Other projects awarded funding include: ‘Growing Connections’, which engages older volunteers in community gardens across London to grow food; ‘Late Spring’, an Age UK Oxfordshire project supporting bereaved people to take up volunteering opportunities; and ‘Hastings Age-friendly Volunteering’, which will establish a group of champions to inspire people of all ages to volunteer.
Find out more by calling Kent Coast Volunteering on 01843 609337 or visiting www.kcv.org.uk.