Age Concern North Norfolk is an independent charitable company with a day centre which offers a range of activities including exercise classes, computer skills classes and opportunities to listen to music. They offer supported bathing, freshly home cooked lunches, respite and keep in regular befriending contact with their service users. In addition they run a number of community outreach programmes as well as a home visiting service in North Norfolk.

The charity was awarded a grant from the Covid-19 Local Resilience fund to help with PPE and meal costs to provide a ‘Meals on Heals’ service as well as collect prescriptions, offer assisted bathings with adapted transport and telephone support line to the older people in North Norfolk. In addition the group really had to adapt their service to their clients during the pandemic by offering shopping for those that were isolated, helping clean client’s homes when doing home visits and giving advice / information. This included information on the Covid-19 virus like how to keep safe, recognising Covid-19 symptoms and who to contact and when in a way that could be understood by older people with health issues like hearing impairment, limited eyesight, Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Not to mention there was an increase of demand with calls during the height of the crisis from vulnerable older people, elderly carers and concerned relatives living out of their area expressing their concerns as one staff member explains “We have received an overwhelming number of calls from the elderly who were extremely worried and concerned for their wellbeing during lockdown and we are so happy that we have been able to continue providing the help and support that they need”.

Moreover Age Concern North Norfolk liaised with community health and adult social services where additional needs arised to ensure individual circumstances were met during tough times. With the adapted service and regular contact the charity aimed to reduce older people’s loneliness and isolation whilst most importantly reducing the likelihood of significant decline in their health or lack of food due to the Covid-19 situation. Also their befriending scheme has meant some vulnerable and isolated individuals received regular communication and even increased their contact with the charity during the pandemic “Speaking weekly with the gentlemen who have accessed the charities day centre activities has been very rewarding. One man has been particularly isolated, lonely and very reserved, but over the months he has become really engaged in our weekly catchup and now leads on the conversation.  I’m able to check that his day-to-day needs are being met but also talk about what he has been doing over the previous week and reminisce about the past” (Befriending Volunteer).

So far an incredible 1,000 meals have been delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic, 40 to 50 phone calls were answered per day during the height of the Coronavirus and around 35 home visits were made per week during their 4 days a week opening times.