As we roll gently into December, the evenings have officially drawn in and the temperatures are starting to drop (hands up if the heating is on, fluffy socks are out and the dressing gown is wrapped around you by 6pm 🙋🏻).
Now in its 3rd year, our Winter Wellbeing project runs from October to March and involves reaching out to the residents of the 12 neighbourhoods in Manchester, who are 65 and over, to make sure they have what they need to keep warm, active and connected during the coldest months of the year.
Our targeted outreach work spans Manchesters 32 wards, and through our honest and caring approach we are able to have deep conversations with older neighbours, often signposting them towards organisations who can offer further support, as well as handing out warm items like blankets and hot water bottles to those who need a little extra warmth through these cold months.
It is through having so many of these brilliant conversations that we’re able to connect neighbours up to our free core programmes, Social Clubs and Love Your Neighbour, giving older neighbours a chance to share time, laughter and stories with younger neighbours they otherwise wouldn’t have met.
Already this year we have had 188 conversations with older neighbours and provided a total of 105 deeper interventions. We’ve also scheduled to deliver 48 warm items, with 18 already delivered, and provided two small grants to go towards high fuel bills.
Early in October we visited and supported Christine. Christine cares for her husband and recently had her pension credit and PIP withdrawn. Struggling to keep the house warm with a reduced income we offered to give a little extra help.
We dropped off a new thick duvet and a winter fleece, as well as some other bits to help Christine layer up. In order to try and reduce Christine’s outgoings we referred to LEAP for energy advice and to Citizens Advice Manchester for money towards a new cooker. It was a delight getting to know Christine and spend time learning about her life growing up in Gorton!
We recently visited Naheed to drop off a thermal fleece blanket. We got to sit and have a cup of tea with Naheed, and learnt lots about her experiences moving from Pakistan to London, until eventually settling in Manchester. She showed us her wonderful scarf collection, that she knits herself, and spoke to us about how she feels too scared to get outside at the moment as her walking stick slips on the wet ground.
We made a referral to the Falls Prevention Team to see if they might be able to offer a better solution and invited Naheed to come along to our next crafty social club in Longsight, just round the corner from her!
In November we met Masood after he was referred by the Care Navigation team. We chatted all about his exciting career as a taxi driver, once chauffeuring a famous movie star to and from The Palace Theatre, and thinking back to a time when pints were cheap, not £5 for a craft ale!
After chatting about his life in Manchester and his current love for swimming, we arranged to drop off a fleece mattress topper to help him stay cosy at night and to made a referral to the Falls Prevention team to see if they could help with his dodgy outdoor steps!
These are just three older neighbours that we have met through the Winter Wellbeing project this year. It’s through our proactive outreach and the help of our wonderful community partners that we get to meet and support so many individuals from across the city and hear about the stories of their life.
If you know someone who could benefit from help through our Winter Wellbeing project head to www.manchestercares.org.uk/older-neighbour-referral or if you’d like to meet your older neighbours and come along to one our Social Clubs or become a match on our Love Your Neighbour programme head to www.manchestercares.org.uk/get-involved.
Posted by Amy Saunders on Thursday 28th November 2019
Amy is Manchester Cares' Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator.