Many older people will feel lonely this winter due to the pandemic

£50k to fight winter deaths and loneliness

As winter approaches, the Foundation has joined forces with Age UK to fight excess winter deaths and loneliness.

Through funding from The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – County Durham Community Foundation has been able to support older people in the region, by reaching out to Age UK County Durham, Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington and Age UK Teesside to discuss projects to combat these issues.

Grants totalling £50,000 were awarded between the three organisations to deliver hot meals, provide counselling and a buddy service – the Here for You project.

£50k to fight winter loneliness

Paul from Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington said. “We know that loneliness amongst older people across the region is disproportionately high when compared to the national average.

“Darlington is ranked 97 our of 326 Local Authorities for loneliness, with a high proportion of older people recorded as feeling lonely.

“Covid-19 has meant suspending our group activities and workshops and closing our cafes and buildings: resulting in increased social isolation, loneliness and anxiety.

“With the funding we will employ a part-time cook to prepare two-course hot meals which are nutritionally balanced and tailored to an older person’s palate and portion size. 

“The hot meals are then delivered to the door by volunteers who also undertake an informal well-being check which they then feedback to the Age UK team.

“In normal circumstances, our cafe is the heart and soul of the charity, a place where older people can socialise and access good value, homemade food.

“Although our cafe has re-opened in a socially distanced way, many older people are not confident enough to venture outside and still value a meal being delivered to their home and the social contact they have with the volunteer on the doorstep.”

Excess deaths

For many years, the Foundation has run a Surviving Winter campaign to raise money for those who suffer more in the winter months.

In County Durham alone, there are around 335 excess winter deaths each year. 22 per cent are related to the cold and 10 per cent are related to fuel poverty.

In addition, research shows that nearly a million older people feel lonelier at Christmas time, two-fifths of whom have been widowed. Almost 60 per cent of adults fear they will not be able to see their family and friends this Christmas due to Covid-19.

For the past six months many have been cut off from their families and unable to see their loved ones as much as they would have liked. To not see them for Christmas will be an additional blow.

To find out more about how the Foundation fights for good health and no poverty, please read our Make a Difference page and consider a donation.