Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) has launched the ‘Heart of Hampshire’ Fund, enabling local businesses and individuals to support the smaller voluntary and community groups that are tackling the issues of social isolation and loneliness affecting older people in Hampshire. It is estimated that there are approximately 27,000 lonely older people in Hampshire, and the Heart of Hampshire fund will award grant funding to the smaller local charities and community groups working incredibly hard to make a difference to these people’s lives.
The Fund has been set up to support projects that offer a lifeline to older people, providing a hot meal at a lunch club, transport to a group for companionship, a chat over coffee, a daytrip to the seaside or the chance to make new friends through a befriending scheme. These opportunities make such a difference in an isolated person’s life, as just knowing that someone is going to be calling in to visit or that you have set a date to meet up with friends for a catch up over a cup of tea can really transform what could be a lonely week into a something to really look forward to.
Last year, through the generosity of our donors, HIWCF awarded grants of almost £170k to support seniors aged over 65, supporting people like George, who is 91 and a member of Crondall & Ewshot Older People’s ‘Village Pump Group. George has been attending the group since his wife died, with the group looking after the older residents in the village giving them a sense of purpose to meet up and get out and about while offering a little bit of practical nighbourly help with transport and logistics.
Tony Hopkins, Chair of the Village Pump Group said:
Our members are mostly single and some are quite vulnerable. A grant of £500 will subsidise around 8 trips for us over an 18 month period, based on a minibus for 15 people and we always ask for a member contribution towards costs. Our members really do look forward to getting together for our events, whether it is a visit to a stately home, a steam train ride or afternoon tea.
I don’t know what I would do without the group, I look forward to meeting friends of the same age for a natter over a cup of coffee, we have a laugh and a joke and people wish me all the best. It’s very friendly, I even get a hug.
Speaking about the new fund, Grant Cornwell MBE, Chief Executive for HIWCF said:
The Heart of Hampshire fund has been set up to make a positive difference to the lives of older people in our local communities. Over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone and data shows that over 10% of older people see somebody they know less than once a week. We are calling for Hampshire businesses to work with us to fund the vital initiatives and projects run by the army of amazing volunteers across our communities, which play a crucial role in tackling loneliness and isolation for older people. It is imperative that we support these people because we know how detrimental loneliness can be to a person’s health and wellbeing.
Local businesses and individuals can get involved with Heart of Hampshire, which is supported by Hampshire County Council, by making a donation using the donate button on the website. A £200 donation can fund a year of transport for members to attend a weekly community group, £1,300 can cover venue hire for a year for groups to hold exercise groups, singing clubs or coffee mornings and £2,000 can cover costs for befrienders to carry out home visits providing neighbourly support for 10 older people.
An HIWCF grant has recently supported local charity Basingstoke NeighbourCare. The group has 450 senior clients to transport to essential appointments and also provides a befriending service offering companionship and assistance in the home. Valerie is 85 and lives on her own, but finds it tricky to walk without assistance. She uses the services of Basingstoke NeighbourCare to help her carry out essential food shopping trips and to get to her hospital appointments.
I couldn’t manage without Basingstoke NeighbourCare, the volunteers provide a wonderful service, they take me to my appointments, sit with me to keep me company, bring me back home, and they are giving up their time because they want to help me, it’s so lovely to have some company there to listen to you, and to chat with.”
The Kenwood Community Fund administered by HIWCF is a great example of how a major local employer is getting involved in our local community. A grant from the fund has recently enabled Rowan’s Hospice to run a beginners cookery course for bereaved people. The course covered skills such as basic food hygiene, healthy eating, balancing menus, weekly menu planning and home style cooking and gave participants a great reason to meet up, mingle with new people and learn valuable new skills, at what is an extremely difficult and challenging time for them.
HIWCF focus on awarding grants to the smaller, lesser known, community and voluntary groups working on the frontline who often need only a few hundred pounds to make a huge difference to local people’s lives. If you would like to find out more about HIWCF and our work carried out across Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth please look at www.hiwcf.com
Photo: Participants completing the Rowan’s Hospice’s cookery course.