20th Jun 2019
Loneliness is a significant problem for older people in North East England, with research from Age UK estimating that there are over 51,500 older people in our region that are lonely. Loneliness Week 2019 aims to reduce the stigma around the condition, which experts say can lead to complications such as dementia, heart disease and depression.
Looking to do something about this, staff at local tea merchant Ringtons, raised £5,230, which was matched £1-for-£1 by the Ringtons Fund at the Community Foundation. Staff began fundraising for the friendship-dog charity following a nomination from Joanne Riley who works at Ringtons headquarters in Byker, and who volunteers at Wag and Company alongside her dog Honey.
Sandra King, Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Community Foundation said:
“Philanthropy has the power to combat loneliness by supporting some fantastic causes in our community, with Wag and Company a fine example of this.
“Dogs live in the moment and shower their owners with love. This interaction can lead to a stress-busting effect that may lower the risk of heart disease and can reduce issues among dementia patients by boosting moods and raising their nutritional intake.”
“We’re delighted to match the efforts of Ringtons staff to ensure that their support can go further and help Wag and Company to thrive.”
Diane Morton, Founding Director of Wag and Company added:
“It’s an absolutely amazing amount of money that has come from the Ringtons staff and supported by the Community Foundation. This will enable 40 Wag teams to make over 10,000 friend visits to the elderly in the North East. This will make an amazing difference to how people feel about their lives and bring joy to many elderly people, as well as our volunteers and their dogs.”
One volunteer to offer their support is Dianne, a Wag team member alongside her dog Eddie. Dianne visits elderly people in care, and people in their home such as Shelia, who describes the visit as the highlight of her week. As a volunteer Dianne also feels joy, and describes her experiences.
Describing her experiences, Diane said:
“I’m a volunteer but more importantly my dog Eddie is a volunteer. Eddie particularly likes to visit Shelia because she gives him chicken every week, and I enjoy visiting Shelia because she’s about the same age as my mum would have been and it gives me really good memories!”
Shelia, a beneficiary of the friendship dog service describes the importance of friendship dogs as a way to tackle loneliness, and added:
“I get visits from Eddie and Dianne which mean the world to me. The good that this money is going to do is unbelievable. There is a lot of lonely older people who live on their own and love dogs but can’t keep them. Now they will get a visit from a Wag dog and I think it’s absolutely brilliant!”
Since it was established in 1995, the Ringtons Fund at the Community Foundation has awarded more than £500,000 to important community causes in North East England.
Colin Smith, Managing Director of the Production Division at Ringtons says:
“My great-grandfather founded Ringtons in 1907 and he was known as a renowned philanthropist in our local community. It’s fantastic to see our staff continue this tradition through fundraising and volunteering, and we’re immensely proud to match their achievements £1-for-£1 through the Ringtons Fund at the Community Foundation.”
“The Fund is our way of giving back locally, and through the advice of the Community Foundation we can find important community causes doing great work.”
The Ringtons Fund was established at the Community Foundation in 1995, and as well as £1-for-£1 match on annual staff fundraising, the fund has a grants programme which supports projects working with women, families, older people, disabled people and those living in more disadvantaged areas. To date the Fund has made 217 awards totalling £525,683.
Sandra King, Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Community Foundation added:
“Working with Ringtons is a joy. It’s fantastic to see a successful, local business which is passionate about its community. Through its fund at the Foundation, we have connected Ringtons to hundreds of important community causes in our region.
“Our longstanding relationship has seen over half a million pounds invested in community projects that do great things locally. We urge any business who is thinking about their giving to contact us and see how we can help them to make a big impact locally.”
For more information on setting up a Fund to tackle the vital issues in your community visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk