Before Covid-19, a typical day for the Outreach team could look like anything - from talking with older patients in a GP surgery who are waiting for their flu jab (always armed with plenty of leaflets!); to hanging out with younger neighbours at WeWork in Spinningfields - spreading the word about volunteering with our programmes.
This is how we’ve built up such a vibrant network of older and younger neighbours, by going out and about across the city striking up organic conversations with people, and encouraging them to get to know their fellow neighbours. We’ve also built up brilliant relationships with community partners, who are amazing champions of our work and share it with individuals they work with and support.
We sometimes meet older neighbours who could do with a bit of extra help - be it signposting, referrals, or accessing information and advice about a challenge they were facing.
When lockdowns were implemented, our outreach work went indoors along with the majority of the country, and we weren’t able to visit those community spaces in-person. While we miss meeting people face-to-face, we’ve been excited by new ways of reaching the Manchester community from afar.
We’ve reached out to new older neighbours from across Greater Manchester through Facebook, helped with 1-2-1 tech support for those interested in getting online, worked with housing associations to send out letters to their residents and checked in more regularly with those without internet over the phone for a friendly chat.
Over the last 6 months, we have:
What’s in an intervention?
We know from experience and from speaking with our older neighbours, that it can be difficult to make new friendships when there are other things going on which are causing worry. For this reason, as well as introducing our social programmes, we work with older neighbours to find local advice, services and information to support them in overcoming barriers to connection.
Interventions vary greatly from person to person, depending on what they need support with - in the past we’ve helped older neighbours apply for Ring and Ride, to remove transport-related barriers from doing what they love, and we’ve also supported older neighbours who are not able to do their normal grocery shopping or pick up their prescriptions.
Interventions can also be connecting older neighbours to Adult Social Care, to mental health support and to free debt advice.
Whether our older neighbours are ready to get back to face-to-face activities and visits, or whether they’re taking things at their own pace, our Outreach programme will continue to be there for all of our older neighbours to support them with challenges that may come up.
If you know someone 65+ who could do with a friendly chat with the Outreach team, you can refer them over to us, or give us a call on 0161 207 0800.
Posted by Amy Saunders on Friday 9th April 2021
Amy is Manchester Cares' Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator.