By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
You may be wondering what has happened to the Ageing Well Torbay (AWT) programme during recent months as all efforts switched to helping people through the coronavirus crisis.
Much of our regular and more visible work on the ground had to be shelved, but the very people responsible for delivering the work of Ageing Well were also the people best placed to react to the current crisis.
We are already knew a lot of the older and vulnerable people in communities across the Bay, so were able to mobilise quickly to check that they were OK and provide support where necessary.
And as confident as we were, even we were taken aback by the number of people we did not know about until they rang the Helpline and registered their details.
Everyone stepped up and have been going the extra mile ever since doing what they can on and off line to help communities to help themselves.
Our Staying Put project came into its own, providing, not just the number for the Helpline – 01803 446022 – but also the core of volunteers poised to swing into action to help people across the Bay.
YES! Brixham, one of AWT’s delivery partners were able to provide practical help for people locked down with small but essential jobs, like dripping taps and putting up shelves.
Another, Ellacombe Community Café provided hot meals and set up a drop in café in the old Torbay Community Development Trust office in Temperance Street in Torquay.
Age UK Torbay’s Wellbeing Coordinators have been working flat out to provide support for the most vulnerable as well as administering a mental health triage service.
Brixham Does Care have done what they do best, looking after the people of Brixham with their own staff doing shopping, prescription collections and providing much needed support throughout.
Citizens Advice Torbay who helped us set up FAIR (Financial Advice, Information and Resilience) peer-to-peer support, have also provided much needed financial support via the Helpline.
Healthwatch Torbay have been getting more people online to ensure as many people as possible remain connected even if they cannot get out to meet people face to face.
Other than that we have tried to keep everything going as best we can, though many of the myriad of events that took part every day in towns across the Bay, have where possible gone online.
We even took the Ageing Well Festival onto the web and streamed it live both via our website and with the help of our friends at Riviera FM.
Just as we always have we are constantly on the look out for new ways of connecting people and we have come up with some pretty wacky ones to date – the Sunflower Trail put smiles on faces and we lit up the Bay with the Christmas Light trail.
We are also working on a new idea to put smiles on faces as they take their daily exercise or pop to the shops, so watch this space!
Luckily we have had the blessing of our funder, the National Lottery Community Fund who have been happy to allow us to tackle this crisis in any way we saw fit and have even rewarded us with an extra year to allow us to hopefully finish the work we have been doing for the last six years.
It might not seem like it right now, but residents of the Bay are among the lucky ones, and at the risk of blowing our own trumpet very loudly it is because of Ageing Well Torbay, as our staff have worked tirelessly through this crisis.
With the help of an army of volunteers – more than 1,000 so far and still climbing – we have been there for anyone who needed our skills or the expertise of our many partners.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring, with vaccinations being rolled out in the Bay in their thousands, we can only hope that the day we return to a more regular way of working is just around the corner.
Like everybody we look forward to that day, when we can meet, talk, laugh and even dance together. We can’t wait, because we miss you.
For more details about the Ageing Well Torbay project, we highly recommend exploring the website you’re currently on (or should be on, in the off chance this article has been copied without editing elsewhere) www.ageingwelltorbay.com