Social distancing ‘should not mean increased isolation’
Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership is running a series of ‘Doorstep Bingo’ sessions to help older people stay socially connected while remaining safely distanced.
It follows a wider emergency response developed by the organisation in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are acutely aware that social distancing should not mean increased social isolation for many older people in our community,” said Deirdre McCloskey, MEAAP Project Coordinator.
“We wanted to look at activities that we could do safely, in line with social distancing rules to support the many older people who can no longer attend day centres/group social activities or indeed see their family, neighbours or friends.
“So we trialled Doorstep Bingo in Doury Road, Ballymena and it was great fun, with the feedback very positive. We subsequently secured funding support from Age NI which has and will help us deliver more doorstep activities in the future across Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus in partnership with the many small but vital community groups in the borough.”
Linda Robinson CE, Age NI commented: “Age NI is delighted to help fund this innovative approach to engaging our older people in these uncertain times. Now more than ever, older people need the reassurance that they have someone to turn to, and in this instance have fun together. Age NI would like to congratulate MEAAP on its vital work.”
Between March 23 and May 3, the MEAAP staff team provided 216 additional voluntary hours.
Some 1,502 calls were answered during that period after the extension of opening hours for telephone enquiries, with 1,055 successful calls made.
The group has provided vital support in other areas, with 71 referrals made to the Good Morning befriending services.
A total of 149 people received support from volunteers with prescriptions, groceries and dog walking.